Was Verizon Responsible for the iPhone’s Evolution?

While Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) may take credit for a lot of innovation, Verizon’s (NYSE:VZ) chief executive officer, Lowell McAdam, seemed to want credit for Apple’s implementation of 4G LTE.

The high-speed wireless protocol was already ramping up when Apple launched its iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, but the company didn’t include the necessary hardware to connect to the 4G LTE networks. Back then, Tim Cook was only chief operating officer, and he said the company would have needed to change its iPhone design to implement 4G into the iPhone 4 and 4S.

Another reason Apple might have avoided including 4G LTE into its iPhone could have been that it was a drain on mobile batteries — something that Apple was not fond of, if anyone can remember the reasoning behind Apple’s decision to exclude Adobe’s (NASDAQ:ADBE) Flash from its mobile operating system.

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However, Verizon’s McAdam said that he had met with the late Steve Jobs to try convincing him to include 4G LTE hardware in the company’s iPhones. Retelling his conversation with Jobs, McAdam said, “I was really trying to sell him and he sat there without any reaction. Finally, he said, ‘Enough. You had me at 10 Mbps. I know you can stream video at 10 Mbps.’ And Apple’s next phone was LTE.”…

Oddly, the iPhone 4S was released one day before the death of Steve Jobs, and would have been Apple’s next phone after McAdam’s recounted conversation, unless the talk was head on the last day Jobs was alive. In all likelihood, McAdam was just ignoring the iPhone 4S.

Regardless, 4G LTE is proving to be an important feature on smartphones today, as users want the fastest connection for the quickest download rates. McAdam said that over half of Verizon’s wireless traffic is video downloading, and that number is expected to grow. Had the iPhone 5 not included 4G LTE, it might have quickly ceded power to Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android-powered smartphones — this suggests the influence mobile carriers have on mobile manufacturers.

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Verizon will soon be expanding its LTE network to 79 new markets, following T-Mobile’s jump into the 4G LTE game to prepare for its launch of the iPhone 5. Access to the iPhone 5 and to LTE networks has proven to be an important element in the struggle between mobile carriers.

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