Is that Verizon on iPhone’s horizon?

The iPad hype machine took a back seat today to the latest rendition of iPhonemania. The rumor mill buzzed with word that Verizon Wireless will get its own gift from Apple this summer. There’s been no official word from Verizon or Apple, but the smart money says there will be a Verizon-flavored iPhone soon, which would end Apple’s exclusivity with AT&T in the United States.

Making the uberpopular iPhone available on the Verizon Wireless network could not only increase the number of iPhone users, but also spark a wave of defectors from AT&T, which has struggled with increasing service and customer support issues. A report released today by Bernstein Research said Verizon Wireless could gain as many as 6.4 million additional iPhone subscribers this year as a result of the iPhone addition to its handset options.

Couple the expansion with the iPad’s "no data contract required" provision (although the 3G iPad will be exclusive to AT&T at launch), and we could see people splitting their digital-media budget with both companies.

The big loser with the iPhone expansion to Verizon Wireless could be Palm, whose smartphones have not captured the necessary market share to remain strong players. John Paczkowski of the The Wall Street Journal’s All Things Digital team writes more on Palm’s problems in today’s edition: (http://bit.ly/dxy5ym).

What’s your take? Let me know if you’re a current Verizon Wireless customer who plans to switch to the iPhone when it’s available.

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