Apple Reportedly Orders CDMA Chips for December Production Run of Verizon iPhone

Yes, it's the subject that's been beaten to death: a Verizon iPhone. The ongoing rumors have been stoked in recent weeks by a claim from Bloomberg that the device will launch in January, with this week's announcement that Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg will offer the keynote address at CES 2011 sparking speculation that an iPhone introduction could occur there.

TechCrunch weighs in today with new claims that Apple has placed a large order for Qualcomm CDMA chips to be deployed in an iPhone production run scheduled for December. The claims come from a source reportedly familiar with the supply chain logistics for the CDMA-based chips that would be required for a Verizon iPhone.

Sources with knowledge of this entire situation have assured me that Apple has submitted orders for millions of units of Qualcomm CDMA chipsets for a Verizon iPhone run due in December. This production run would likely be for a January launch, and I'd bet the phone is nearly 100% consistent with the current iPhone 4 (with a fixed internal insulator on the antenna).

As the report notes, the evidence does not guarantee a Verizon iPhone launch in January, "but all of the signals point that way", adding another claim to the growing chorus of reports suggesting that a launch is coming early next year.

AT&T has already moved to downplay the risk to its bottom line posed by the loss of its exclusivity for the iPhone in the U.S., noting in its latest quarterly filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it expects no "material negative impact" from the expiration of its exclusive handset distribution agreements.

"We do not expect any such terminations to have a material negative impact on our wireless segment income, consolidated operating margin or our cash from operations," AT&T said in the filing with regulators on Friday.

AT&T also reiterated its position that AT&T customers will not defect to rival carriers in large numbers once the iPhone goes non-exclusive, claiming that 80% of customers are on family or business plans that make it difficult for them to switch.

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