Casting doubt on Verizon iPhone rumor

The next day, some analysts are having second thoughts about the Wall St. Journal‘s scoop

“WSJ’s Lame Entry in the iPhone Rumors Game,” was the headline on John Gruber’s Daring Fireball blog Monday evening, even as after-hours traders were driving Apple’s (AAPL) shares to dizzying new heights. (See Apple surges on Verizon iPhone report.)

Gruber’s headline could have served as the lead for the report issued to clients early Tuesday by Morgan Keegan’s Travis McCourt. Needless to say, he’s skeptical about claims that a Verizon (VZ) iPhone is just around the corner. Key points (in his words):

  • Our contacts continue to tell us that Qualcomm (QCOM) is designing a CDMA chip for Apple on VZW’s network, but that it won’t be dual mode with WCDMA (which is what Apple and VZW wanted) and that it would be hard pressed to launch before the 2010 holiday season.
  • Furthermore, it remains unclear whether the two companies will come to commercial terms even if a CDMA iPhone is built; China Telecom (CHA), Sprint (S), and SK Telecom (SKM) have also been oft mentioned as possible CDMA carriers for iPhone.
  • Our best guess is AT&T (T) retains exclusivity on the iPhone through 2010, with a VZW launch either in early or late 2011 depending on whether they choose to wait for LTE or launch a CDMA only version.

According to AppleInsider, UBS’s Maynard Um also told his clients that a Verizon iPhone is unlikely to arrive this year. Like McCourt, Um believes a CDMA phone could be launched first with other carriers, such as China Telecom and Japan’s KDDI.

UPDATE: Bill Shope at Credit Suisse has also weighed in. “We continue to believe that Apple will not support Verizon” until calendar year 2011, reports Silicon Alley Insider.

Apple shares opened Tuesday at $236.67, up 4.28 points (1.8%).

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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