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The Verizon Wireless Rumor Mill: Assessing This Week's Flurry Of Scuttlebutt

This story was written by Tricia Duryee.
It's only Tuesday, but if you're having trouble keeping up with all the rumors swirling this week around various combinations of Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ), Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) and Google (NSDQ: GOOG), here's a recap:

Verizon-Microsoft: Microsoft is in discussions with Verizon Wireless to launch a touch-screen multimedia cellphone on the carrier's network early next year, according to the WSJ. Quoting people familiar with the matter, it says Microsoft's project, which is code-named "Pink," will add new capabilities to its current phone operating system. This would make some sense since Verizon is the largest U.S. carrier and it doesn't have the iPhone exclusivity (or at least not yet).

Verizon-Google: This reportthat Verizon may be striking up a partnership with Google's Androidseems the least plausible yet. The carrier has yet to join the Open Handset Alliance, which is the organization looking over Android's development, but VentureBeat discovered a job description on Verizon's web site tha seeks an "Android Devices Expert." The other evidence the story points to is that "an unnamed CDMA carrier is getting code developed for a chip that would allow Android to be supported on CDMA." But that could be for other Alliance members, like Sprint (NYSE: S). Still, nothing can be ruled out, especially since Vodafone (NYSE: VOD), Verizon's co-owner, is a member.

Verizon-Apple, after the jump

Verizon-Apple Part 1: USA Today reported late Sunday night that Verizon and Apple are considering making an iPhone together that would be ready for Verizon's network as early as next year. AT&T's exclusivity is expected to expire next year. The two cards Verizon might be able to play are that it is co-owned by Vodafone, which already sells the iPhone in Europe, and that it will be transitioning to LTE, the next-generation network that's likely to be adopted in many countries.

Verizon-Apple Part 2: Following USA Today's report, BusinessWeek reported that the two companies might not be in discussions over an iPhone, but rather an "iPhone lite," or a "media pad" that would let users listen to music, view photos and watch videos. The first device is smaller and less expensive, but is considered a "calling device," while the other sounds like an enlarged iPod Touch, which could make calls over Wi-Fi. The sources tell BusinessWeek that a device could be launched as early as this summer.

By Tricia Duryee

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