New York - Apple and Verizon gave a belated holiday gift to millions today with the news that the iPhone will be available on the Verizon network in February.
The 3G iPhone 4 will be available for online pre-order to existing Verizon customers on Feb. 3. One week later it will be available in Verizon and Apple stores and online.Weeks later, the iPhone will be available through Verizon Wireless agents.
Pricing will remain the same as under AT&T: $199 for the 16GB and $299 for the 32GB version with a two-year contract. The feature set will also remain the same, except Verizon will include a mobile Wi-Fi hot spot.
Data pricing plans were not announced.
The news came this morning at a press conference held here. The iPhone was originally introduced in January 2007 with AT&T as its exclusive carrier.
Verizon COO Lowell McAdam said Verizon decided to go with the 3G version first in order to get the iPhone into its customers hands as quickly as possible. In addition, adding the LTE chipset would force some design changes, said Tim Cook, Apple's COO.
As for the immediate impact, Stephen Baker, The NPD Group's industry analysis VP, believes Verizon's initial iPhone sales will come from its own customer base.
"Most of the projections show that most of the iPhone volume for Verizon in the short-term will be upgrades from their own customers as people coming off contract choose the iPhone instead of a Blackberry, Droid or Android device," he said.
This in turn will give a boost to iPhone sales as new people are brought into the Apple fold, he added.
AT&T did anticipate this move by Apple and in response protected its own customer base from being pillaged by locking up iPhone users with early upgrades offered in conjunction with the iPhone 4 launch.
AT&T activated 3.2 million iPhones in during its fiscal third quarter for a total of 7.2 million for the first three quarters of 2010.