January 7, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Overheard at CES: Verizon iPhone Coming in April (Updated)

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA — Verizon really will start selling iPhones this year, according to multiple sources, but Evolver.fm heard a fascinating, credible detail involving the Verizon iPhone’s release date.

The CDMA/GSM chips that would be required by a dual-network iPhone are apparently already in “initial production,” which will ramp up in February and March, setting the stage for an April unveiling of the Verizon iPhone.

Here’s how we know this.

Gene Inger, who sells a private financial information subscription at IngerLetter.com and  has appeared regularly on CNBC’s Squawk Box and other programs, told Evolver.fm that he wheedled the above information out of a Broadcomm executive in first class on the flight to Las Vegas as the two shared a round of cocktails. (Broadcomm makes cellular connection chips for Apple and other companies.)

The Broadcomm executive initially would not disclose specifics about the Verizon iPhone, but when Inger asked whether it would be possible for Broadcomm to manufacture a chip with both GSM (AT&T) and CDMA (Verizon) compatibility without adding a half an ounce to the iPhone, the exec admitted that such chips are in fact already in initial production, and should be complete over the next couple of months, paving the way for an April release of the Verizon iPhone.

To be clear, this discussion was about a CDMA/GSM chip. But given the timing of the discussion, the fact that everyone has been wondering how Apple will manage to add both GSM and CDMA compatibility to the iPhone, and the fact that their conversation was initially about the iPhone, we’re inclined to agree with Inger that Broadcomm’s CDMA/GSM chip is destined for the iPhone.

Granted, this information comes from an unnamed executive (Inger stipulated that we not reveal the executive’s name) — and it’s second-hand at that — but his story passed the “smell test.” (Considering that Apple is likely to debut the iPhone 5 at some point this year, April could be when Apple announces the iPhone 5, but we’ll leave that speculation to others.)

So, you heard it here first, with a grain of salt: The Verizon iPhone should be available by April, barring unforeseen difficulties, bringing the world of iPhone apps to Verizon’s network.

Update: Apparently, the Verizon iPhone does not have a GSM chip; if this Broadcomm executive’s comment is any indication, Apple could switch to a dual-network GSM/CDMA chip in the April timeframe.

Photo courtesy of Flickr/jfingas