Verizon Wireless, the biggest U.S. mobile-phone carrier, will probably begin selling Apple Inc.’s iPhone in early 2011, Barclays Plc said.
Sales of Apple’s device could boost Verizon’s subscriber gains next year by 900,000 for a total of 2.8 million, said James Ratcliffe, a Barclays analyst, in a research note today. He cut Verizon’s profit forecast for next year because of the handset subsidies the company would use to lure customers.
Verizon is battling AT&T Inc., the exclusive U.S. seller of the iPhone, for smartphone users willing to pay for mobile Internet access in addition to phone calls. The iPhone had the second-fastest growth worldwide among smartphone platforms in the first quarter, trailing Google Inc.’s Android, according to Gartner Inc. of Stamford, Connecticut.
“As the most popular handset in the marketplace, the iPhone should help drive subscribership,” Ratcliffe said. “We believe most of the activations will come from pent-up iPhone demand from Verizon’s current subscriber base.”
Ratcliffe said his forecast for the iPhone debut on Verizon’s network was based on research by Barclays semiconductor analysts on activity in that industry.
Ivan Seidenberg, chief executive officer of Verizon Wireless parent Verizon Communications Inc., repeated today the mobile carrier is interested in offering the iPhone to its customers.
“That decision’s really Apple’s,” Seidenberg said today at an Economic Club of Washington event. “We stand ready to do it, but that’s an Apple decision.”
Natalie Kerris, a spokeswoman for Apple, didn’t return an e-mail message seeking comment. Brenda Raney, a spokeswoman for Basking Ridge, New Jersey-based Verizon Wireless, declined to comment.
Verizon Communications, which co-owns Verizon Wireless with Vodafone Group Plc, was unchanged at $29.06 at 4:02 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Cupertino, California-based Apple climbed $3.68 to $273.85 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.