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Sunday, April 26, 2009, 08:55 pm PT (11:55 pm ET)

Apple and Verizon said in talks for 2010 iPhone

Once believed to have blown its first chance at the iPhone, Verizon is now claimed to be in discussions with Apple for its own version of the iPhone in 2010.

Pointing only to anonymous people familiar with the negotiations as its sources, USA Today explains that Verizon reportedly entered serious talks before Steve Jobs' hiatus and has been continuing those talks even with Jobs temporarily sidelined for medical reasons.

Other than a 2010 target release window, little else is divulged by the apparent insiders.

Although not explicitly stated, the newspaper infers that the phone would be a CDMA device compatible with Verizon's existing network and therefore using EVDO for its 3G Internet access. Such a move would give the phone broad coverage but directly contradicts Apple COO Tim Cook's own dismissal of CDMA last week: when discussing iPhone expansion plans, the executive justified the absence of a CDMA model by arguing that a single, GSM phone model is easier to produce than building a separate version for a relatively small batch of customers. Cook also sharply criticized CDMA by asserting that it has no future, as most CDMA carriers plan to phase out the calling technology in favor of the same 4G standard that will be used on GSM networks.

More likely is a direct leap to a 4G. Verizon chief executive Ivan Seidenberg recently explained that a deal is more likely for a phone with the advanced networking technology as it would let Apple continue making one phone but still service North American carriers that are for now off limits. Verizon plans to officially launch its commercial 4G network in early 2010 and would therefore have at least some of its network ready for an iPhone by the time AT&T's exclusivity term ends, which is likely for the same year.

However determined Verizon may be to land an iPhone of its own, AT&T may topple those ambitions through its own discussions. Separate rumors have the incumbent iPhone carrier pushing Apple to extend its US exclusivity until 2011 — enough to stall any Verizon deal until AT&T's own 4G network is ready.

Any successful deal, no matter the network type, would likely be a serious blow to AT&T, which credited much of its ability to weather the ongoing economic crisis to iPhone sales and the resulting spike in data revenue. Aside from reducing incentives to launch massive, special upgrades to the network, a Verizon model would let those dissatisfied with AT&T' s 3G coverage or its customer service defect to Verizon without giving up Apple's handset.