Verizon Wireless is warming to the idea of an Apple (AAPL) partnership. Verizon Wireless is in talks with Apple to distribute two new iPhone-like devices, BusinessWeek has learned. Apple has created prototypes of the devices, and discussions reaching back a half-year have involved Apple CEO Steve Jobs, according to two people familiar with the matter.
One device is a smaller, less expensive calling device described by a person who has seen it as an “iPhone lite.” The other is a media pad that would let users listen to music, view photos, and watch high-definition videos, the person says. It would place calls over a Wi-Fi connection. One of these devices may be introduced as early as this summer, one person says.
Until now, AT&T (T) has been the only carrier of Apple’s iPhone in the U.S., adding more than 7 million subscribers as a result of the arrangement; the company has said it’s in talks with Apple to extend the partnership, due to end as soon as next year. An agreement to distribute Apple communication devices via Verizon Wireless may cost AT&T some of the business it has gained as the sole Apple carrier. Even if Verizon Wireless and Apple fail to strike a deal, talks between them increase pressure on AT&T to accept partnership terms favorable to Apple.