The rumors were true: Verizon Wireless today announced it will begin selling Apple's iPhone, ending rival AT&T's three-year exclusive on the iconic device.
Verizon will carry the existing iPhone 4, not some new iPhone model. Pre-orders will begin Feb. 3 for existing Verizon subscribers, with phones in stores for new customers on Feb. 10. The 16 GB iPhone will retail for $200, and the 32 GB version for $300, both with a two-year contract.
The company offered no details on pricing for the service. Reports prior to today's event expect Verizon to offer an unlimited data plan, something AT&T originally did when it first offered the iPhone but last year did away with in favor of a tiered usage model.
Steve Jobs didn't make it for the press event announcing the iPhone, but Apple COO Tim Cook did join Verizon COO Lowell McAdam to share the news (preceded by "Daily Show" comedian John Oliver).
The impact of the iPhone coming to Verizon is enormous, but many of its ramifications -- which we speculated about in an article published yesterday -- aren't immediately clear. With Verizon's 93 million subscribers, this is obviously a huge win for Apple. However there are some downsides.
The device won't be able to access Verizon's upgraded LTE network; rather it will stick to the standard 3G network. But Verizon's McAdam promised the network is ready for the crush of data usage that AT&T struggled with.
It also won't have some of the features that AT&T iPhone users are accustomed to, such as the ability to make phone calls and access the Web at the same time. One feature it will add is the ability to make the iPhone a sort of portable WiFi hotspot (kind of like a Verizon MiFi unit), allowing up to five WiFi devices to connect to the Internet through the phone at any time.
Analysts have said Verizon could sell anywhere between 5 to 12 million iPhones this year, although it's unclear how many of those additions will be new iPhone users and how many will be existing AT&T customers switching service to Verizon.
We'll be following this story through the coming hours and days with reactions from analysts and others - keep coming back to Billboard.biz for more.