If you?re one of those Verizon subscribers who's hoping that the iPhone will eventually come to Big Red, well ? there's little in the way of good news here, I?m afraid.
Looks like the iPhone may not be leaving AT&T anytime soon. Although the Apple-AT&T exclusivity deal ends next year, Mobile News Today reports that the two companies are in talks about extending it. (Previous news articles already had the term pegged to 2010, and Engadget's betting that, if these talks goes through, then the deal could last until 2011.)
Last year alone, Apple sold 14 million handsets, and scores of customers flocked to AT&T from other cell carriers, especially after the July debut of the iPhone 3G. In fact, 47 percent of AT&T's new iPhone subscribers were from VZW, 24 percent came from T-Mo, and 19 percent switched from Sprint.
So, obviously, AT&T is highly motivated to keep the iPhone around. Apple, however, might've sold just as many (if not more) through other carriers. So I have to wonder what the motivation would be for Cupertino.
What would happen if Apple dumped AT&T?
Pundits believe that the tech company is at a crossroads. The business success of the iPhone is beyond dispute, so the bigwigs might not want to mess with a winning formula. But, say analysts, this could also be a tempting opportunity to expand into other markets.
Already, there's talk that, if Apple ditches AT&T, there would be a line out the door with suitors ? including Sprint, Verizon Wireless, MetroPCS and U.S. Cellular, which could individually or even collectively make a play to become the iPhone's CDMA carriers.
"If we are talking about Sprint and Verizon, there is a difference and a fair amount of investment there with the chips,? says Lewis Ward, mobile consumer services research manager at IDC, ?but they have an opportunity to have a much broader market and can do cross-carrier pollination." (Pollination? Yick.)
Can the company go against its nature?
Strange word choices aside, Ward's right in that taking on different carriers would make operations more complicated.
"As we've seen with BlackBerry, to offer even the same device across multiple carriers and coordinating that, from a logistical standpoint ? it gets pretty complex," Ward says. "Executives would outweigh logistical costs or hiccups that might come from branching out."
Still, although they may be in black turtlenecks, jeans and sneakers, the suits at Apple are still suits, just like anywhere else. Given this is the same company that refuses to license its Mac operating system to other hardware manufacturers, exclusivity seems to be its favorite word.
Even though chances are slim, I do hope Apple goes against its M.O. and opens things up. But I?m not holding my breath.