This morning, CDMA inventor Qualcomm announced official plans to release new dual-carrier chips that would enable future phones to work on both its own CDMA/EVDO carrier partners such as Verizon and Sprint, as well as rival 3GPP carriers using UMTS/HSPA+ technologies such as AT&T and T-Mobile. The new chips also provide future support for LTE, the next generation 3GPP standard that most carriers plan to begin testing for deployment globally over the next few years.
However, an analyst has cited sources within Qualcomm in stating that although the company would like to have a dual-mode handset ready in 2010, that would likely be impossible. Ashok Kumar, an analyst with Northeast Securities, told AppleInsider that a dual-mode iPhone from Apple wouldn't exist until 2011 at the earliest.
Kumar said what Qualcomm wants and what they can do are two different things. In order for a dual-mode iPhone to launch in the summer of 2010, such a device would have to be in field trial today.
"They're nowhere near that," he said.
Kumar said he believes it would be a "stretch" for Apple to introduce a dual-mode CDMA/EVDO and UMTS phone in 2010. Instead, he expects a CDMA-only phone specifically made for Verizon Wireless, the largest mobile carrier in the U.S., to debut in the second half of next year.
Kumar's research note was also cited in a report by GigaOm, which presented his conclusion as being that "Apple will launch a WCDMA/CDMA2000-enabled version of the device not an LTE version through Verizon by the summer of 2010."
Last week, AppleInsider cited a report that said that a Verizon-compatible "worldmode" iPhone would launch by Q3 2010, capable of working on both CDMA/EVDO and UMTS mobile networks. Qualcomm's press release states that it will be sampling advanced new dual-carrier HSPA+ and Multi-Mode 3G/LTE chipsets for launch in the second half of 2010, suggesting that such a product would be easy to deliver.
However, in an interview with AppleInsider Thursday, Kumar said, "Technically I think it will be a stretch to have both UMTS and CDMA, because not only do you have hardware issues in terms of the baseband, but also software issues. Eventually they will probably get there [with the iPhone], but that's probably a 2011 story, not a 2010 story."
According to Kumar's sources, the worldmode chip technology isn't currently available for prototype phones being built in anticipation of manufacturing for a summer 2010 debut. In addition, he said, any new chipsets would have a prohibitively high cost.
"It's very likely they're trying to hit a low price point, maybe a $99 price point," Kumar said of a potential Verizon iPhone.
If things turn out as his sources expect, Kumar said Verizon and Apple hope to hit the market with a new CDMA-only iPhone model by late summer or early fall.
"Trying to do a world phone in that time frame would be impossible," he said.