The most talked-about cellphone in America is one that doesn't officially exist: the Verizon iPhone. Ever since the 2007 launch of Apple's iPhone—which crippled swaths of AT&T's network—consumers have yearned for a Verizon iPhone as if it were the Second Coming.
When Verizon Wireless, the nation's largest mobile-phone operator, recently agreed to sell Apple's iPad tablet bundled with a MiFi card that works on Verizon's network, tech analysts and media were abuzz with speculation that the real news—the announcement of the much-anticipated Verizon iPhone—was in the offing. "Apple and Verizon Wireless finally are getting it on. But are there bigger plans in the works?" tech site Appolicious asked after the companies announced their iPad pact. (The answer: yes. Fortune has confirmed that a Verizon iPhone will be released in early 2011.)
That so many Americans covet Verizon iPhones—analysts estimate that Apple could sell 8 million to 9 million of them next year, compared with an estimated 22 million iPhones sold to date in the U.S.—is partly a testament to the efforts of Ivan Seidenberg, who has presided over one or another of Verizon Communications' predecessor companies since 1995, when he became CEO of Nynex. From that perch Seidenberg has transformed a boring, lumbering, $13-billion-a-year in sales phone company into a technology giant with $108 billion in sales last year.
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