Jan. 7, 2011 at 6:45 PM ET
The news many consumers have been waiting for — that Verizon Wireless would finally carry Apple's iPhone — will be announced Tuesday, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
"The largest U.S. wireless carrier will make the long-awaited announcement at an event Tuesday in New York City, a person familiar with the matter said Friday," the Journal reported, although there was no word on when the iPhone would be available for sale.
It will be the first time since the iPhone was released in 2007 that it's sold by more than one carrier in the United States. AT&T has had an exclusive contract for the phone until now.
The phone's arrival on Verizon's network comes not a moment too soon: In the past year, sales of phones running Android, Google's mobile operating system, and available at all four major carriers, have steadily been eating into the iPhone's market.
Last month, tracking firm comScore said that the number of smart phone owners who use Google's Android OS in the U.S. is almost as great as those who use the iPhone.
Word of Tuesday's announcement was indicated earlier today by our own Wilson Rothman, who first published the invite for the mysterious event. He noted that it would be hosted by Lowell McAdam, president and COO of Verizon Wireless's parent company, Verizon. Wrote Rothman:
"After a week of high-level Verizon Wireless announcements surrounding the carrier's launch of 4G LTE, we get yet another invitation, this time to an event sharing 'the latest news' hosted by a bigger cheese than any of the super high level guys here at CES in Las Vegas. So what is it? We assume that Apple will announce the Verizon iPhone before Verizon does, but seriously, Verizon? If this thing isn't an iPhone, you are going to have an angry mob on your hands. We love LTE, but bring it out already!"
In survey after survey over the past three-plus years, iPhone users haven't had a lot of complaints, but AT&T's exclusivity and service has been among them. The carrier has been working furiously to improve its network, especially in the past year.
Despite that, Consumer Reports said last month that AT&T is the "lowest-scoring cell-phone carrier in the U.S., according to a satisfaction survey of 58,000 ConsumerReports.org readers. Of all the carriers rated, AT&T was the only one to drop significantly in overall satisfaction."
More than half of survey respondents with AT&T owned "some verison of the iPhone," Consumer Reports said. The magazine’s data, "reflecting all versions of the phone, found that iPhone owners were much less satisfied with their carrier and rated data service (Web and e-mail) lower than owners of smart phones on other carriers that, like the iPhone, have a host of apps to encourage heavy data use.
"Our survey suggests that an iPhone from Verizon Wireless, which is rumored, could indeed be good news for iPhone fans,” said Paul Reynolds, the magazine's electronics editor.