Analyst Predictions for 2010 iPhone: 70% Chance of Verizon, Battery Improvements, RFID

Silicon Alley Insider reports on a research note from Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, who cites fellow analyst Chris Larsen as giving Apple a 70% chance of launching an iPhone on Verizon sometime next year. According to Silicon Alley Insider, there are a number of good reasons to expect Apple to make the move to Verizon:

- Because Verizon is the biggest U.S. carrier, and could help Apple sell millions more phones per year.
- Because Apple is no doubt aware that AT&T, its current iPhone partner, is majorly flaking on network quality in big markets like New York and San Francisco.
- Because Verizon would otherwise continue to invest heavily in Apple rivals like Google Android and RIM BlackBerry.
- Because the smartphone market is a platform land grab and Apple can't afford to lose ground -- even at the risk of complicating their product line or back-end systems.

There are, however, a number of reasons why such a deal may not occur in 2010, such as difficulties reaching a revenue sharing agreement, increased handset subsidies from AT&T to maintain its exclusivity agreement, and the apparently tenuous relationship between Verizon and Apple as the iPhone maker stands by its U.S. partner AT&T in its ongoing spat with Verizon.

Reports have also centered on the need for Apple to produce different iPhone hardware if it wishes to offer 3G connectivity on Verizon's network due to differences between Verizon's system and that used by all current iPhone carriers. Some speculators have claimed that Apple would be more likely to wait for the converged roll-out of 4G technology that would allow for a single type of hardware across all providers, possibly delaying a Verizon iPhone roll-out until 2011 or 2012 when the carrier achieves broad 4G coverage.

But Silicon Alley Insider notes that even then the iPhone would almost certainly need the capability of falling back to 3G networks where 4G is not yet available, necessitating multiple hardware models or possibly a multi-mode hybrid chip currently under development by Qualcomm that could support both types of 3G networks.

Offering a different perspective on Piper Jaffray's report, Fortune points to other strategies Apple could be looking to employ for the 2010 revision of the iPhone: battery improvements and RFID-enabled payment technology.

-Give the iPhone a battery that lasts longer than one day. "Apple has introduced advanced battery technology with its portable Macs," he writes, "and we expect the company to dramatically improve the iPhone battery life with the next several hardware launches."
-Turn the iPhone into a digital wallet. Munster predicts that future iPhones will have built-in RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology, allowing them to make retail payments with a single swipe.

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