Verizon CEO Plays Down Expectations for Imminent iPhone Launch [Updated]

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While claims continue to build regarding a release for a Verizon iPhone early next year, Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg is continuing to play things close to the vest by once again refusing to acknowledge that any deal might be imminent. In fact, Seidenberg is going as far as to say that he hopes the carrier's 4G network that it is preparing to launch in the next few months will be the impetus to bring Apple on board.

Speaking to an investor conference Thursday, Seidenberg said nothing about an iPhone for the company's current network, but said he hopes Apple Inc. will come around and allow Verizon to sell the phone for a new network it's building. The "4G" network hasn't yet opened for service and won't be complete next year.

Seidenberg would of course not reveal any news regarding a Verizon iPhone launch prior to an official launch, which would presumably involve Apple and Steve Jobs in some manner. Consequently, it is difficult to take his comments at face value, as the companies are almost certainly working more closely together than he is suggesting in his comments.

The Verizon CEO has noted several times in the past that Verizon is interested in carrying the iPhone, claiming in October 2009 that the decision was "exclusively in Apple's court" and confirming for the first time back in April that the carrier had specifically requested the right to carry the iPhone.

Seidenberg is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at next January's CES 2011 conference, leading to speculation that an announcement regarding a Verizon iPhone could take place there.

Update: Seidenberg also noted that Verizon will shift to tiered pricing for cellular data access within the next four-to-six months, following in the footsteps of AT&T's shift made at the time of the iPhone 4 launch earlier this year. One report had pegged Verizon's change to tiered pricing as set to occur as early as this past July, but it has yet to make an appearance.

Update 2: All Things Digital offers an interesting direct quote from Seidenberg about Verizon's need to "earn" the right to offer the iPhone:

"We don't feel like we have an iPhone deficit. We would love to carry it, but we have to earn it. I can't speak for Apple."

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