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Verizon Said to Plan IPhone Launch, Helping Apple Combat Google

Verizon Wireless plans to introduce its long-awaited iPhone at an event in New York on Jan. 11, according to a person familiar with the plans, helping Apple Inc. compete for smartphone users against Google Inc.

Verizon Wireless, the largest U.S. mobile-phone company, will begin selling its iPhone near the end of January, said the person, who could not be identified because the introduction is not yet public. The debut will end Dallas-based AT&T Inc.’s nearly four-year run as the exclusive U.S. carrier for the iPhone, a period in which the device has both been a top seller and faced complaints about reception.

Moving to the country’s largest mobile-phone operator will give Apple the opportunity to sell to the 93.2 million customers of Verizon Wireless, which has heavily promoted smartphones that run Google’s Android software. AT&T, the second-largest mobile- phone operator, had 92.8 million customers at the end of September.

“By getting on to Verizon, Apple has the opportunity to sell more iPhones and could potentially slow Android’s momentum at the carrier that has been that platform’s most important patron,” Yair Reiner, an analyst with Oppenheimer & Co., said in an interview.

Last week, ComScore Inc. said Android topped the iPhone in U.S. smartphone subscribers for the first time, accounting for 26 percent of the market, compared with 25 percent for Apple. BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd. had the top spot with 33.5 percent.

Apple and Verizon waited until the second week of January to avoid the Consumer Electronics Show now ending in Las Vegas, said Rajesh Ghai, an analyst at ThinkEquity LLC in San Francisco.

“They didn’t want it to be lost in the noise of CES,” Ghai said. “They wanted a stand-alone, exclusive event.”

Lincoln Center

Verizon’s event will be held at Lincoln Center in New York at 11 a.m., Peter Thonis, a Verizon spokesman, said in an e-mail. He declined to provide any details on the event.

Natalie Harrison, a spokeswoman for Cupertino, California- based Apple, also declined to comment.

Verizon Communications Inc., the New York-based company that co-owns Verizon Wireless with Vodafone Group Plc, fell 30 cents to $35.93 in New York Stock Exchange trading on Jan. 7. The shares have risen 21 percent in the past year. Apple gained $2.39 to $336.12 on the Nasdaq Stock Market, and has climbed 60 percent in the past year.

To contact the reporters on this story: Amy Thomson in New York at athomson6@bloomberg.net Adam Satariano in San Francisco at asatariano1@bloomberg.net; Olga Kharif in Portland, Oregon, at okharif@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net; Peter Elstrom at pelstrom@bloomberg.net

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