Verizon Wireless recently said it's happy with its smartphone lineup, but the rumor mills insist that Apple and Microsoft are planning devices for the wireless carrier. Verizon has confirmed talks with Apple and Microsoft has not disputed talks with Verizon, but any devices remain speculation.
Earlier this week, news reports speculated that Apple might be developing two devices for Verizon. BusinessWeek cited sources "familiar with the negotiations" suggesting an iPhone lite with a lower price tag than the iPhone 3G AT&T sells, as well as a tablet-like media pad that might look like an iPod touch.
Next, a story emerged that Microsoft was preparing to launch a so-called iPhone-killer, the ZunePhone, through Verizon. The Windows Mobile device could be built by Sidekick, maker of the popular Danger phone. Microsoft acquired that company last year. Microsoft is not disputing talks with Verizon, with which it has a major mobile advertising deal, but said it's not readying a ZunePhone.
The Rumor that Won't Die
"People like to make up rumors," said Michael Gartenberg, a vice president at Interpret. "Conversations between companies happen all the time, but that doesn't mean there is a deal in the works eminently or ever. In these sorts of situations, those who don't speak usually know and those who speak usually don't know. No matter how many times Microsoft says it's not building a ZunePhone, this rumor just won't die."
Won't die, indeed. According to The Wall Street Journal, Verizon and Microsoft are talking about launching a smartphone code-named Pink. A deal with Verizon could put the Windows Mobile operating system in the hands of even more customers, a welcome prospect amid fierce competition from Research in Motion for business customers.
Currently, RIM's BlackBerry dominates smartphones -- at 37 percent -- among all sizes of U.S. businesses. Microsoft's Windows Mobile platform is a distant second at 26 percent, according to a Strategy Analytics report titled Smartphones for Business: U.S. Carrier & Platform Choice.
Verizon Versus AT&T
Verizon and AT&T dominate business wireless service contracts, with AT&T slightly ahead in large enterprises and Verizon favored by small companies. Employees of large enterprises were also the most loyal BlackBerry users. Strategy Analytics reported that the Symbian and Google Android operating systems, as well as Apple's iPhone, are not serious contenders for U.S. business use.
"This research shows that the U.S. market is consolidating, with many companies working primarily with AT&T, Verizon and, to a lesser extent, Sprint Nextel," said Andrew Brown, author of the report. "RIM is clearly the leading smartphone business player, followed by Microsoft. What also emerges is that RIM customers expressed a lower willingness to churn than those on other platforms."