Another day, another Verizon iPhone rumor

Tell us if you're heard this one before: Apple is is reportedly in the process of ramping up production for a CDMA iPhone. Rumors of Apple making the move to embrace CDMA-based carriers in the U.S. like Verizon have been tossed around before, but the evidence continues to mount that Apple will indeed launch new iPhones at the beginning of 2011.

According to the latest reports from Apple Insider, Apple is prepared to produce as many as 3 million CDMA iPhones in December to support an early 2011 launch. These CDMA-equipped iPhone would join an estimated 18.2 to 18.4 million GSM-based iPhones that will be built during the same quarter.

This news comes just after a recent study showed that most iPhone customers are happy with their handsets and Apple in general, but wish they could use an a carrier other than AT&T. The study showed that nearly 50 percent of iPhone owners would switch to a CDMA iPhone using Verizon's network if it were made available.

However, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson doesn't believe that so many of his company's customers would be willing to flock to Big Red. “If you look at the iPhone base, about 80% is either on a family-talk plan or in a business relationship with us,” said Stephenson at a recent investor conference. “Those customers tend to be very sticky. They don’t churn very frequently.”

Stephenson went on to state that roughly two-third of its customers were already AT&T customers before purchasing an iPhone.

It should also be noted that when the iPhone was first released, the number of competent, touchscreen-based smartphone competitors on Verizon were lacking – hence the increased interest from Verizon customers. However, a “lack of product” is not the case anymore with Verizon. With devices like the Droid 2, Droid X, Droid Incredible, and Fascinate, those on Verizon who were patiently waiting for the iPhone may have already given up and made the switch to Android. So those who were previously interested in the iPhone may no longer have an incentive to switch to Apple's top moneymaker.

Whether customers stay with AT&T or flock to a Verizon iPhone -- if it ever materializes -- Apple is sure to benefit either way. IPhone sales add greatly to Apple's bottom line, and having Verizon to bring in another 3 million or more customers can only be beneficial for the boys from Cupertino.

"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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