With no official word from Verizon, there's only been mixed reports on when the ThunderBolt will debut. The first rumored launch dates of Feb. 10 and then Feb. 14 have come and gone without a Bolt sighting, suggesting that a Feb. 24 launch date -- tomorrow -- may be more accurate. The Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) Xoom tablet goes on sale then as well. (See Verizon Lets Users Xoom for $600 and Verizon's First LTE Phone Delayed?)
But, according to what appears to be a Verizon-manned Facebook page, the launch date could be March 21. That date has, however, since been removed from the page.
Lending weight to the Thursday launch theory is the fact that Verizon put out its first commercial for the 4G device (below), boasting that it has "the first phone strong enough to run on the fastest, most advanced 4G network in America," although the actual device got little airtime.
Why this matters
The Thunderbolt was probably delayed because Verizon was throwing all its weight behind the iPhone launch on Feb. 10, but now it needs to focus on LTE. Big Red intends to have 10 LTE devices, including four smartphones, on the market by mid-year, so the sooner it can get the 4G parade started, the better.
Consumer appetite for the latest and greatest smartphones is high in the U.S., but Verizon will also be tasked with explaining the benefits of the HTC Thunderbolt, and LTE in general, to consumers. So far, its first commercial may succeed in generating excitement but it doesn't reveal much about the phone's features.
The HTC Thunderbolt has been hotly anticipated since it was first announced in January at the International CES . Check out the following stories for more on Verizon's first LTE smartphone.
- OS Watch: Will Nokia Embrace WP7?
- CES 2011: Verizon Takes 10 With LTE
- CES 2011: Top 10 Cool Things at CES
- CES 2011: HTC 4G Phones for All!
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile