In a note to clients issued Wednesday, Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster believes there is a 70 percent chance Apple may finally roll out the iPhone on the Verizon sometime next year.
We continue to believe there is a 70 percent chance that Apple will launch the iPhone with Verizon in mid-CY10, Munster wrote in a research note to clients.
Currently, the iPhone is available to 82m AT&T subs in the U.S.; adding Verizon would more than double the addressable market, adding 89 m U.S. customers.
Munster, who cites fellow analyst Chris Larsen, says they predict this since Verizon is the biggest U.S. carrier with 89 million subscribers compared to AT&T's 82 million.
The analyst also expects Apple to turn the iPhone into a digital wallet next year. Munster predicts that future iPhones will have built-in RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology, allowing them to make retail payments with a single swipe.
The iPhone could feasibly become a full digital wallet, similar to other phone models in select use cases worldwide, he said.
But with Apple, the iPhone, iPod touch and iTunes accounts that each have an associated credit card, is uniquely positioned to make mobile payment a reality in the U.S. While limitations still exist in terms of payment receipt terminals at gas stations, restaurants, public transit facilities, etc., we believe that over the next several years Apple will extend the iPhone's functionality with a widely available mobile payment platform.