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How A Verizon iPhone Would Be A Real Game-Changer

A Verizon-carried iPhone wouldn't just rain on AT&T's parade. It would also help stave off the advancing armies of Google Android smartphones.

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That would be a smartphone game-changer of the highest order, considering the iPhone's popularity and the fact that since iPhone's release, it's been exclusively carried in the U.S. by Verizon archrival AT&T. It would also be the right time for Apple to strike again, given the emergence of compelling iPhone competitors within the past year.

Apple hasn't been shy about releasing new versions of iPhone every year, but this summer's update might tip the balance of power in the mobile device space yet again.

Rumors of a Verizon-carried iPhone began anew Monday. A report in The Wall Street Journal cited sources close to Apple as saying that a CDMA cellular version of the iPhone -- meaning one that could be supported by primary CDMA carriers like Verizon and Sprint -- is indeed in the works.

It's been long thought, of course, that AT&T (which uses GSM technology) would lose its iPhone exclusivity in the U.S. by the end of 2010. Apple has already opened up iPhone to other carriers all over the world, ending formerly exclusive contracts in other geographies.

Still, with Apple facing new challengers in the smartphone space -- many of them running on Google's red-hot Android platform -- the time has arrived, it seemed, to make sure the iPhone reaches as many potential consumers as possible. Here are three ways Apple iPhone on Verizon would be a major event:

1. Verizon Gets A Showpiece Smartphone

The Motorola Droid's nice and all -- so is the Palm Pre Plus, for the matter -- but neither has the name cachet of the iPhone. One of the knocks on Verizon is that despite a broad range of smartphone offerings, from Droids to BlackBerrys, it still lacks the showpiece handheld that would define its smartphone fleet like the iPhone has defined AT&T. Verizon is also said to be preparing 4G-enabled devices for a 2011 release, so a boost in popularity thanks to iPhone availability would be coming at the right time, with the next phase of mobile connectivity on the horizon.

2. AT&T Loses Its Trump Card

Remember that snippy advertising war waged by AT&T and Verizon over 3G wireless coverage? Just imagine how Verizon will turn up the heat on competitive rhetoric as soon as it has availability of AT&T's prized handheld. AT&T probably isn't in danger of losing subscribers in the short-term, but rest assured Verizon will fan the flames of AT&T's much-criticized and spotty 3G service anew -- and AT&T won't be able to fall back on iPhone exclusivity anymore.

3. Google's Android Momentum Overshadowed

Google's Android mobile OS, now in release version 2.1, has taken hold among both manufacturers and developers, and it's steady growth throughout the past year especially has meant a galaxy of new handhelds, a proprietary Google phone, the Nexus One, and plenty of interest in creating an app developer community to rival Apple's own. That momentum won't necessarily slowdown if iPhone comes to Verizon, but with iPhone on the country's No. 1 and No. 2 carriers, Google may have a harder time than it thinks muscling back into the spotlight.

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