'Apple Has Most at Stake' in Verizon/iPhone Tie-up

The worst-kept secret in technology is about to become official. Verizon has scheduled an announcement on Tuesday at 11 a.m. ET, and just about everyone says it’s to tell the world exactly when it will begin servicing the iPhone.

Apple iPhone 4
Emmanuel Dunand | AFP | Getty Images
Apple iPhone 4

Even though this move has been well telegraphed for months, that does not diminish the importance, especially for some widely held names like Verizon , AT&T, Apple and Google .

“At the end of the day, Apple has the most at stake,” Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster told CNBC. “By having an exclusivity in the U.S. (with AT&T), it has given the Android extra life through Verizon.”

Google-based Android phones have now passed the iPhone in terms of market share, according to ComScore. Access to 93-million Verizon customers could swing the numbers back in Apple’s favor, but a smart phone battle is clearly raging right now.

“Verizon getting the iPhone is going to have a significant impact on Android market share,” Munster added.

This also fuels the competition between Verizon and AT&T, and there are some key questions investors need to think about.

How many customers will AT&T lose? Will heavy subsidies make profits difficult for Verizon? Will Verizon upgrade its network to users can surf the web and make phone calls—as is now the case with AT&T?

And when it comes to the stocks of the companies involved, there is no doubt who has been the winner since the iPhone launched nearly four years ago. Since the June 29, 2007 launch date, Apple is up 177 percent. Google, which makes the Android operating system, is up 16.50 percent. Verizon is up 4 percent, while AT&T, despite all the increased business, is down 30 percent.

Even in the short term, Verizon’s performance has been twice as good, outpacing AT&T stock by about 20 percent over the last six months.

According to reports, expect Verizon to begin servicing iPhones by the end of January.