Fortune, in an article today describing the long and winding relationship between Apple's Steve Jobs and Verizon's Ivan Seidenberg, claims they've confirmed a Verizon iPhone is coming in "early 2011".
According to the story, Verizon passed on the iPhone in 2005 because Steve Jobs wanted too much control over where it was sold, too high a cut of service fees, and wanted to take on too much of the customer relationship. When Seidenberg tried to revisit the idea in 2007, just prior to the original iPhone launch, Jobs had concerns about CDMA not being a global standard. 4G LTE plans weren't enough to jumpstart the discussions back then.
Lowell McAdam, who will succeed Seidenberg at some point next year, contacted Jobs again in late 2007, when AT&T's network was already suffering under iPhone demand, to make sure they "weren't missing something," something which McAdam says Jobs agreed with in principle.
It took until October 2010 for Apple and Verizon to come together at all, and only for iPad 3G + MiFi bundle sales, but it was an important first step. And the iPhone?
people familiar with its development say it is a fait accompli. Verizon, sources say, will sell its own version of the iPhone 4, which will work on Verizon's CDMA-based 3G network. Unfortunately for globe trotters, the first version of the phone likely won't be built to work outside the U.S. -- it probably won't carry a special chip that can turn it into a "world phone." However, it may have some of the features on the iPad distributed in Verizon's stores, like live TV for customers of the FiOS cable service.
The whole article is worth a read, and also includes a lot about Verizon's relationship with Google and Eric Schmidt, and their current use of Android as an alternative to iPhone (though in the current quarter it hasn't brought in anywhere near the amount of net subscribers).
For those keeping score at home, however, we now have Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Fortune on record confirming the iPhone is coming to Verizon. Are you starting to believe?