Verizon Wireless will eventually carry Apple's iPhone. That's the word from CEO Ivan Seidenberg, who told news media Tuesday that it's up to Apple.

"Eventually it's our view we'll get to carrying Apple," he said, according to Reuters. He added that he would prefer to have an iPhone that supports Verizon's next-generation LTE (for Long-Term Evolution) 4G network Relevant Products/Services technology. Currently, trials are under way in Boston, Seattle and elsewhere, and the company has said the rollout will cover 25 to 30 markets by the end of this year.

'Very Strange'

LTE offers peak rates of 40 to 50 Mbps, with averages of five to 12 Mbps down and two to five Mbps up. The competing 4G technology is Sprint Nextel's WiMAX. Sprint has already unveiled a 4G smartphone.

There have been reports recently that Apple was working on new iPhones -- including an updated GSM one for AT&T Wireless, with whom it currently has an exclusive contract for U.S. distribution, and a CDMA model for Verizon that would not work on LTE. Some observers have suggested that Apple didn't see Verizon rolling out its LTE technology fast enough to warrant that kind of device in the near future.

Whether 4G or not, an iPhone on the Verizon network would certainly shake up the position of current handset makers on that carrier, including Samsung, LG, Motorola and RIM. Some analysts suggest that adding the iPhone to Verizon's lineup could double Apple's market share.

The Verizon CEO's comments are raising eyebrows. Ken Dulaney, vice president for mobile Relevant Products/Services computing at industry research firm Gartner, called Seidenberg's comments "very strange." He added that they indicate Verizon "doesn't yet have a contract for iPhone, and that they're begging to have it."

'No Bargaining Power'

Dulaney said Gartner had predicted a 4G LTE iPhone would be available from Verizon by the summer, but the CEO's statement indicates that negotiations with Apple still have a ways to go.

But the upside is tempting for both parties. "If I'm Apple, and I'm interested in making money," he said, "no place can make as much money for the iPhone as Verizon." But, he said, Verizon has "no bargaining power here" and will have to "take whatever Apple wants to give them."

An LTE iPhone could be problematic, he said, because of the substantial power requirements. Dulaney predicted that, if there is an LTE iPhone, it "will probably be just for data Relevant Products/Services," not voice, because of that factor.

He noted that AT&T's recent announcement of five phones based on Google's open-source Android platform "had appeared to be a defensive action," to ward off an eventual move of the iPhone to Verizon.

Verizon's own defensive move should involve Android as well, Dulaney said. "Verizon needs to be working with Google to improve its offering," he said, adding that Google needs to advertise its app store to counter Apple's.