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Analyst: Apple will sell 35m iPhones next year, with or without Verizon

One of the questions that always seems to come up during our TUAW Talkcast and TUAW TV Live sessions is "When do you think Verizon Wireless is going to get the iPhone?" According to recent comments from Merrill Lynch analyst Scott Craig, the answer to that question is irrelevant to Apple.

Craig anticipates that Apple could sell 33 million iPhones in 2010, and that number would rise to 35 million in 2011 even without a second U.S. carrier. However, the upside to Apple in selecting a second U.S. carrier -- possibly Verizon Wireless -- is that the number of 2011 sales could rise to as high as 55 million.

Other Wall Street analysts believe that Apple's decision to stick by AT&T for the iPad indicates a vote of confidence for the carrier, with analysts at Credit Suisse even going so far as to say that there's a 75% chance that AT&T will keep iPhone exclusivity for another year.

While the analysts don't seem to see a real downside risk for Apple, Credit Suisse recently downgraded Verizon from Outperform to Neutral based on the absence of the iPhone from their product line. It would definitely be in Verizon's best interest to make an agreement with Apple to carry the iPhone; however, Apple is unlikely to make agreements with non-GSM carriers such as Verizon Wireless until they are well into a transition to the 4G LTE technology.

[via Cult of Mac]

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