Both Apple and Microsoft are working with Verizon to create new mobile devices, according to two news reports.
The stories from BusinessWeek and the Wall Street Journal both cite unnamed sources in describing Verizon’s plans.
BusinessWeek reports that two devices are in the works with Apple’s help. The first was described as an "iPhone lite," with a smaller form factor selling for less money than the iconic smartphone. The other device is a "media pad" for listening to music, watching videos and viewing photos. Phone calls would be made through Wi-Fi only. The report says one of these devices will be ready in the summer, and that Steve Jobs was in on the negotiations.
The Wall Street Journal describes a collaboration between Verizon and Microsoft under the codename "Pink." Details are scarce, but the phone will reportedly rival Apple’s iPhone and run on Windows Mobile with new software capabilities. In a strategy that also resembles Google’s Android phones, Microsoft will reportedly farm out the manufacturing to a third-party after designing the hardware and software in-house.
I’m skeptical that all of these stories will prove accurate, but the journal’s story seems most plausible. When it comes to flagship smartphones, AT&T has Apple’s iPhone, T-Mobile has the Android-powered G1 and Sprint has the Palm Pre. In the US, at least, that leaves Verizon wide open to carry a new brand without conflicting with another premium offering.
As for the Verizon iPhone idea, one Washington Post blogger calls it "wishful thinking," but maybe the concepts descried will be different enough to get around Apple’s exclusve deal with AT&T. As with all rumors, time will bear these out, or not.