Apple to end AT&T's iPhone exclusive?
Good news. For AT&T
Apple's hyper-hyped iPad may not be the only thing on Steve Jobs' agenda when he takes the stage this Wednesday at San Francisco's Yerba Buena center. The latest word on the street is that Apple may also announce the end of its US iPhone-exclusivity deal with AT&T.
Over the weekend, HotHardware reported that they have been "led to believe by an inside source" that Apple and AT&T are about to end their monogamous iPhone relationship.
If true, doing so might not only boost iPhone sales, but could also bring benefits to beleaguered AT&T.
On Apple's part, ending its one-carrier US scheme should attract potential buyers who are attracted to the iPhone but feel less warmly about AT&T. One analyst, in fact, predicted last October that ending AT&T exclusivity could as much as double iPhone sales in the US. Doing so certainly worked for Apple in France and the UK, which has the highest percentage of iPhone users in the known world.
The benefits to AT&T wouldn't be as direct, but dropping exclusivity could help Big Phone dig its way out of the PR nightmare that the success of the iPhone has brought it. Although the Cupertinian smartphone has been an overall moneymaker for AT&T, it has also caused them headaches, including a short-term financial hit as they subsidized the first wave of the iPhone 3GS.
More problematic for AT&T, however, has been the enormous strain that the iPhone has put on the company's overburdened network.
Customers have flooded AT&T with complaints about dropped calls and sluggish service. Problems have been particularly acute in cities chock-full of opinion leaders such as San Francisco and New York. In the Big Apple, in fact, one luckless iPhone user who complained that he was losing around 20 per cent of his calls was told by an Apple Store "genius" that he was lucky it wasn't 30 per cent.
One hint that AT&T might be ready to share some of the network pain with another carrier is the lack of buzz we've heard lately about Big Phone trying to extend its exclusivity agreement with Apple.
And then there's the fact that both the US Senate investigation and the Federal Communication Commission inquiry into exclusivity agreements have gone curiously cold. Perhaps there has been some backroom nodding and winking going on.
Yes, the iPhone has brought new and lucrative customers to AT&T, but in other ways the exclusivity deal has been nothing but trouble. Should HotHardware's insiders be correct - if we learn this Wednesday that Apple is opening up the iPhone in the US to, say, Verizon - there might be some signs of relief heard from the Big Phone boardroom. ®
To hell with the iPhone - until I can buy it unlocked in the UK
Maybe this means...
Maybe this means that in the USA, the announcement in June / July won't just be for i4phone, but for an iphone4 that actually supports Tmobile's different flavor of 3G service.
I've had a rocking time unlocking and helping people give two fingers (translated for you blighty blokes!) to BigPhone, as the Death Star's network is as shoddy as their customer dis-service droids.
But people have always been sad that their shiny i-brick couldn't run at the data speed of true 3G. I just consoled them with the logic that 115kb data that didn't crash was twice as valuable as 300kb data that spent 50% of the time searching for a tower.
Now if Verizon and Sprint actually ARE transitioning to GSM for their 4G networks... ABOUT BLOODY TIME! I'll believe it when I see it however.
Mine's the one with the venerable Motorola Brick Phone in the pocket. Turn that thing on, at 2 WATTS of power, and watch all your GSM phones INSTANTLY get jammed off the air from the interference! Muahahahahahahahahaha!
Swan song for AppleT&T
Sea-levels aren't rising, it's the island sinking under the weight of all those bloody iPhones!
The direction we are going, of course.
LTE is not technically GSM
Many different carriers of all stripes are going to migrate to LTE, which is technically an all-IP-based air interface that supersedes UMTS. It's the "4G migration path from GSM", sorta - but it can be sliced many different ways, including co-operating with CDMA.
I am not aware of any major Sprint announcement on LTE - they are fairly committed to WiMax at this point. (assuming they don't just shrink to insignificance)
The exclusive iPhone carrier deal had to end sometime. The end of the Palm exclusive w/ Sprint may have pushed things a bit. It's undoubtedly true that the iPhone really kept ATT relevant for the last couple of years. Verizon would have overtaken them in size way earlier if it weren't for that deal.
Personally I'd rather have the variety though. I'm not particularly enamored of any market where 85% is controlled by one vendor, no matter what market it is, or how good the product is.
Let me get this straight...
AT&T is currently navigating through a PR nightmare, ostensibly because of the iPhone popularity; and even though most people wouldn't even go near them under normal circumstances, they are subscribing to AT&T just to get a hold of an iPhone. Essentially, iPhone users are tolerating AT&T's service because they are forced to.
So when their exclusivity contract expires and current and prospective iPhone users are freed from the shackles of a badly run network, it is expected that users will flock to a different, ostensibly better, carrier, which will alliviate the usage loads on AT&T's network by way of customer attrition.
The end result being AT&T is left with less clients and a bad reputation that scares away new ones. How is this a good thing for AT&T?