Apple [AAPL] has confirmed that Verizon iPhone users will not be able to access the new beta trial of new iCloud and iTunes features, because the relevant software isn’t yet available for the CDMA model of the smartphone.
On Monday, Apple made iTunes in the Cloud available in beta form on any iPad, iPod Touch, PC, Mac or iPhone running the latest version of Apple’s software, iOS 4.3.3.
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Developers soon noted that a software update enabling access to these beta features on the Verizon iPhone wasn’t available, and wasn’t being tested.
Sources cited the iOS 5 beta trials currently available to developers as circumstantial evidence that Verizon users will need to wait until the full iTunes/iCloud introduction this fall.
This may be the case.
In a statement supplied to me last night, Apple PR explained: “iTunes in the Cloud requires iOS 4.3.3 & iTunes 10.3. iPhone on Verizon runs iOS 4.2.8.”
In other words, if you happen to be a Verizon iPhone user, then access to the new iTunes features is denied you until Apple offers a software update, or until the company releases the full version of the service in fall.
Verizon’s iPhone customers are lagging behind AT&T’s in terms of software updates. The last update they received was in March, while AT&T users have been treated to three software updates since then.
It isn’t clear why the lag exists, other than that Verizon model phones use a CDMA radio supplied by Qualcomm while the AT&T models are on the GSM network.
That difference could be the reason, were it not for the fact that the iPad on Verizon, which also uses a Qualcomm radio chip, has been updated to version iOS 4.3. This means Verizon’s iPad users are able to access the new iTunes/iCloud features.
The upshot is that while iPad owners on Verizon, and iPhone and iPad users on AT&T networks are able to access the new Tunes in the Cloud features. Verizon’s iPhone users are currently unable to automatically push tracks they download to other devices.
It isn’t the only limitation afflicting the current model of the device on Verizon’s network. This model iPhone 4 is a CDMA phone, not LTE and with no support for GSM.
Speaking at launch of the device, Apple COO Tim Cook said this was because LTE chipsets “forced design changes” Apple couldn’t make in the iPhone 4, and also because Verizon customers said they wanted the iPhone “now“.
This means if you are an iPhone user visiting Europe you’ll be off the grid, as CDMA is not supported in most networks there — or anywhere else.
My take on this? I’m certain that the Verizon iPhone will gain access to these new iTunes features eventually, but it makes me think that the different development path being followed by the iPhone on Verizon and on AT&T comprises circumstantial evidence to support the notion that September’s iPhone 5 will be a world phone, for use on both networks.