According to Leslie Cauley of the USA Today, Apple and Verizon have been in talks for a few months from back when, "...when CEO Steve Jobs was overseeing day-to-day business, these sources say". Jobs went on his leave of absence earlier this year so it appears that they've been negotiating, or perhaps even already agreed upon & are now working on, a new iPhone for Verizon. Now, USA Today was the orginal source, back in early 2007, that AT&T had a 5 year exclusivity contract with AT&T for the iPhone for 5 years. They revised that in June of 2008 by saying that the deal was for 3 years, not 5 and reconfirmed that earlier this year. This would mean AT&T's contract runs out in June of 2010. The source in this new article coraborates this fact.
The article claims that this would be a CDMA product, but given that Verizon boss Ivan Seidenberg himself ruled out a CDMA iPhone and opened the door for an LTE one, I'm inclined to believe that the carrier would like to see this product help roll out the first slivers of its commercial 4G network in 2010. Since AT&T (along with the rest of the world) is moving toward LTE, and an LTE-powered iPhone is a forgone conclusion, it's really just a question of when Apple will make it happen and whether Verizon will be able to come to an agreement with them.
Perhaps now we know why it’s been reported recently that AT&T was pushing hard to get Apple to extend its exclusive deal another year, into 2011. Verizon is AT&T’s main rival in the US, and is actually larger. That being said, Verizon lacks the one device that people are switching networks just to get. In announcing its most recent earnings, AT&T said that as many as 40% of all customers who sign up for iPhone contracts are new to AT&T which translates into the fact that having the iPhone to themselves is gravy.
Now, any skilled negociator will tell you that the first thing to do in a situation like this is to play one off of the other, and of course that may be what Apple is doing but I sure hope not. I really hope Verizon can make this happen, if the rumors are true.