Peter Kafka

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Verizon Gets the iPhone

We know this much: Today’s the day Verizon formally announces that it’s getting its hands on the iPhone. Everything else–pricing, technology, features, etc–is still an unknown. But we should resolve that soon, with the help of Verizon Wireless COO Lowell McAdam, and, perhaps even Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

I’ll be covering the event in real-time below, but you should also be checking in with my colleague Ina Fried, our mobile expert who flew across the country for this thing.* Here’s her useful crib sheet for this morning’s news.



Lowell McAdam and Steve Jobs have yet to show up. But the Daily Show’s John Oliver is here. He’s standing up and shouting “Fuck yeah! Oh god! Fuck yeah!” It is alternately amusing and scaring the rest of the nerd/analyst/press audience.

Lights dimming.

Here’s Lowell McAdam, smirking: “If the press writes something long enough, eventually, it will be true.”

Sorry, having a bit of tech difficulty. Not sure if it’s wireless or my MacBook. Think it may be the later. But right now McAdam is providing walk-up, context.

Lowell McAdam

Pounding “network quality, the hallmark of the Verizon brand”. “We have a history of pushing the envelope of network innovation on a very big scale.”

More superlatives about Verizon infrastructure, which he insists is “future-proof”

“I’ll let you in on a little secret” – “we debated about calling this 6g”, but “that isn’t in our DNA”

Anyway, our awesome networks “put us at the hub of the wheel that is driving the industry forward”

McAdam is gratified to announce the Verizon iPhone 4, a work in progress since 2008. It will be available early next month using the CDMA network. Sorry folks, that means 3G–not 4G.

8:10 am: Apple’s Tim Cook: Verizon iPhone has all the features you would expect, i.e. FaceTime, Retina display.

8:10 am: Other features carried over from iPhone 4: 5MP camera, Apple A4 chip, etc.

8:11 am: Cook: We had been talking to Verizon for a while. Great respect for the team…

8:11 am: This is just the beginning of a great relationship between Apple and Verizon. Introduces Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead.

Mead: Now wireless consumers everywhere have a choice–a choice they have never had before.

8:13 am: Branding is made clear, this is an iPhone 4 on Verizon, not a new iPhone.

8:13 am: Training for Verizon employees starting this week. Been scaling customer service, network, other features.

“We have more than enough capacity…We have designed this network for customers to have the optimum experience.”

Thousands of iPhones have been tested over last several months on Verizon’s network, Mead said.

8:16 am: Even as we roll out 4G LTE, committed to adding capacity to CDMA network. Sounds like iPhone won’t run on LTE 4G network. Not a huge surprise.

On Feb. 3, existing Verizon Wireless customers will have opportunity to pre-order.

On Feb 10, Verizon iPhone will launch online and in Verizon and Apple stores. Prices: $199 for 16GB and $299 for 32GB with a two-year contract.

Will have hotspot capabilities.

“We welcome this game-changing device to our network,” Mead said.

BIG THANKS to Ina Fried for saving my ass by taking over liveblog duties. I’m back for Q&A

Tim Cook (alas, not Steve Jobs) back on stage now.

Q: How many CDMA iPhone can you make in first q and first year of availability?

COOK: I won’t get into forecasts. “We tend to be a company that does something and then reports what we’ve done, instead of predicting.”

But: We’re very psyched. “It’s fair to say that both of think there’s tremendous opportunity…No one more than us wants to give Verizon customers the choice they’ve been waiting for.”

MEAD reminds us that both companies are in quiet period in advance of earnings.

Q: Will CDMA iphone be refreshed sooner, or later?

COOK: No comment.

Q: Why not a 4g LTE iPhone? Why CDMA?

COOK: Two reasons. First gen of LTE chipsets force design compromises, most of which we would not make. Also, Verizon customers “have told us, they want the iPhone now.”

MEAD: “We have a tremendous network in our 3g network” etc etc.

Q: Is CDMA iphone exclusive to Verizon?

8:23 am: Cook: Deal with Verizon is multi-year and strategic, but non-exclusive.

8:25 am: Not talking today about service pricing, including how much hotspot will cost.

8:26 am: Verizon iPhone will also be available in “indirect” sales channels, but not immediately. Verizon didn’t say which partners, but said it would be in a matter of weeks.

Q: What’s different about CDMA “experience” when you make a call vs data, compared to GSM?

COOK: Everyone has been asking when we’ll get the iPhone on Verizon. [Essentially, same answer he’s been giving most of press conference]

MEAD: Did I mention we’re excited about this announcement? Also, we’ll be giving demos on this thing right now. Thanks for coming, Tim Cook.

COOK: “This is the start of something big”

And we’re done.

Again, apologies for sporadic in-and-out blogging. Think my MacBook needs a visit to the Apple store.


*And she’ll probably end up snowbound in Brooklyn before her trip is over. So please: Read what she has to say!