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Confirmed: Verizon To Offer Apple iPhone Starting Feb. 10

Verizon will begin offering Apple's iPhone for $199.99, ending AT&T's nearly four-year stranglehold on iPhone sales in the U.S.

Long-rumored and finally realized: Verizon and Apple Tuesday confirmed that Apple's mighty iPhone 4 will be available on Verizon Wireless' network starting Feb. 10. The move, announced at a press conference in New York, is expected to significantly shift the balance of power among carriers in the country, as it breaks AT&T's nearly four-year exclusive hold on iPhone sales in the U.S.

According to Apple and Verizon, pricing will be $199.99 for the 16-GB iPhone 4 and $299.99 for the 32-GB model, with a two-year lock-in. The iPhone will be available at Verizon Wireless retail stores, online from Verizon, and at Apple Retail Stores, the Apple Store and through Apple resellers.

Qualified Verizon customers will be able to preorder iPhone 4 online starting Feb. 3, Verizon added.

"We are pleased to introduce millions of wireless users to the industry-leading iPhone 4 on the nation's most reliable network," said Lowell McAdam, president and COO of Verizon, in a statement. "This is an important step for the industry as two great companies join forces to give wireless customers one of the most important technological additions to the mobile landscape this century."

A Verizon iPhone, or at least a version of the iPhone that can run on the CDMA wireless network Verizon uses, has been rumored for years -- really, ever since AT&T first brought the original iPhone to market in 2007. Verizon getting the iPhone also raises a number of new questions, however, such as how many net-new subscribers Apple and Verizon stand to gain, and how Verizon will successfully ward off the network-strain criticism that has dogged AT&T. Some analysts believe Verizon, which has about 93 million subscribers, could sell as many as 12 million iPhones in the first year of availability.

Other questions linger about how Apple's many smartphone rivals will respond. Motorola, Samsung and HTC are all key backers of the rival Android platform from Google. Android is seen on some of the hottest new smartphones in the world, and also has Verizon as a key backer.

Of note from Tuesday's launch is that the Verizon-carried iPhone 4 appears to be about the same as the version carried by AT&T, plus what Verizon is calling "new Personal hotspot capabilities" for connecting up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices via the iPhone. Some observers were wondering whether Verizon would tout iPhone 4 as compatible with its much-ballyhooed 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network, as well, but Verizon has not yet commented on the matter.

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