AT&T Might Remain Exclusive Provider of iPhone Until Early 2011

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Despite persistent reports that Apple and Verizon Wireless are in talks to end AT&T’s exclusive contract to offer the iPhone, an industry analyst said this won’t happen before early next year.

Apple iPhone 3G SPrevious unconfirmed reports, many from analysts, have indicated that Verizon might introduce a version of Apple’s smartphone this summer. But Brian Marshall from BroadPoint AmTech now said that AT&T has reached an agreement with Apple that will make it the exclusive provider of the iPhone for another six months, until the first quarter of 2011.

The iPad Factor
According to Marshall, the contract extension on the iPhone is actually related to another Apple product, the iPad. In exchange for offering wireless Internet access for this tablet computer at a lower rate, AT&T allegedly received six more months of exclusive rights to the iPhone.

The agreement supposedly also made AT&T the sole provider of service for the iPad. Previously, Verizon was also going to offer Wireless Data service for the model.

An iPhone for Verizon
If Apple does eventually allow Verizon to offer the iPhone, there are benefits and drawbacks.

Verizon has more subscribers than AT&T, and so the number of potential customers would double. On the other hand, the companies use incompatible wireless networks, so Apple would have to add support for CDMA to the iPhone line.

Not Just Verizon?
This spring, René Obermann, CEO of T-Mobile USA’s parent company said that talks are going on that might bring Apple’s smartphone to T-Mobile, adding it could happen in late 2010 or early 2011.

While Apple has never said it plans to bring the iPhone to other U.S. carriers, it has ended its exclusive contracts in other countries, and has seen significant increases in sales as a result.

Source: Computerworld




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