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Apple and AT&T Exclusivity: Will You Switch if You Have the Choice?

Update: AT&T Will Spend $2 Billion to Improve Wireless Network

Yesterday, Apple unveiled it’s new iPad and discussed the future of portability. It was suggested that the event would also lay to rest–one way or another–the rumors that Apple is ending it’s exclusive deal with AT&T. Unfortunately, those rumors were neither confirmed nor denied and no one knows for sure just what’s going to happen.

The Background

The iPhone has had an exclusive deal with AT&T since the beginning. If you purchased an iPhone, you had to purchase the data plan from AT&T if you wanted to use the iPhone to its potential. Users have complained of arbitrarily lost calls, high overage costs, and limited signal availability in some parts of the country (including major cities).

Last week, rumors started floating around that Apple may be ready to end it’s exclusivity with AT&T–something users have been begging for. Ending the AT&T exclusivity deal isn’t such a bad idea, not only for the sanity of users and the Justice Department (which has concerns over the exclusivity policy), but for AT&T as well. As Barb Dybwad of Mashable points out, “It even makes sense for AT&T, who in some ways are arguably shouldering an excessive burden by being the sole carrier of the data-intensive device. Many of the customer complaints about AT&T’s service (or lack thereof) can be traced to network troubles that are primarily a result of the bandwidth-hungry Apple phone.”

The Rumors

Bloomberg reported that “T-Mobile USA Inc. will get the phone this summer, followed by Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel Corp. in the fall, and Clearwire Corp. in 2011”. And Shawn Oliver of HotHardware reported that “we have been led to believe by an inside source that AT&T will lose their iPhone exclusivity on the same day [of Apple’s big event]”. When Steve Jobs took the stage on Wednesday, he confirmed that Apple is the largest global device company in the world (their earnings for last quarter were $15.6 billion dollars) and he unveiled the new iPad. What he did not do was fire AT&T.

In fact, the new iPad will be powered by AT&T’s 3G network. And in a quarterly earnings call on Monday, Apple’s COO defended Apple’s relationship with AT&T:

“First of all, AT&T is a great partner. We’ve been working with them since well before we announced the first iPhone. And I think it is important to remember they had more mobile broadband usage than any other carrier in the world. And in the vast majority of locations we think that iPhone customers are having a great experience, from the research that we have done. As you know, AT&T has acknowledged that they are having some issues in a few cities and they have very detailed plans to address these. We have personally reviewed these plans, and we have very high confidence that they will make significant progress toward fixing them.”

The bottom line is that rumors of an end to Apple/AT&T exclusivity are still rumors. I’d like to know your opinions on this. If you currently own and iPhone, would you try out a new carrier if you had the choice? If you don’t own an iPhone, would you buy one if you could choose your carrier or would you stick with what you’ve got?

This article was cross-posted at

6 thoughts on “Apple and AT&T Exclusivity: Will You Switch if You Have the Choice?”

  1. I have an iPhone. I’d switch carriers in a heartbeat if a carrier could get me service at my home. There are so many dead areas on my daily route that it’s frustrating. I wanted an iPhone… actually “had” to have it. I love the phone and what it can do. Hate AT&T.

  2. I’m using Verizon. After using an iTouch I am anxious to get an iPhone.I can already do everything but use as phone or camera. Using it Now to type this comment.the apps are great and the browser is killer. I can use VOIP if I want. I am completely sold on functionality and ease of use. Cannot wait for Verizon to get iPhone!!!!

  3. I would like to try the iphone because I’m a Mac user at home but have a Blackberry to sync with my PC at work (which I know the iphone can do). But I’d like to find a solution to my PC/Mac work/home situation. I can’t be the only one. Maybe the iphone can sync to both eventually.

    Right now I’m loyal to Verizon and I do hope they open things up because I would probably get it in the future on the VZ network.

  4. My husband and I detest AT&T. We had so much trouble when they were our phone service we finally switched to another carrier. We will never go back to AT&T. My husband wants an Iphone in the worst way, but as long as we can’t choose our carrier, we aren’t getting one.

  5. First of all, you have to know that I don’t have an iphone, or even a smartphone. I am in the market for one, and plan on making the switch later this year. I would love an iphone but here’s my thoughts: my current carrier (not AT&T) has ‘loyalty discounts’ and I can make the jump for ZERO DOLLARS. The only cost to me would be an increase in my monthly bill. Highly attractive, no? Anyway, If the iphone were supported on all networks I would do it in a heartbeat, since that is what I want anyway. No, it’s not that hard to switch carriers but if I can get something for nothing without switching, and without the giant cost of the iphone itself, then why switch?

  6. My husband got his first cell phone with AT&T after extensive research into different companies. He liked it, and when my contract was up, I joined his plan. We both liked AT&T and when the iPhone came out I didn’t think twice. I didn’t need an iPhone, so I lived my life like I always had. When I started grad school I started looking for a new planner and decided it was useless to keep up with multiple things (music player, planner, phone, etc) so I bought an iPhone 3G. I fell in love and there’s no way I’d go back. I have experienced more dropped calls, but it’s been totally worth it for all it does for me. Even if other service providers started carrying iPhones, I would stick with AT&T if nothing more than for brand loyalty (unless someone else had it for DRASTICALLY cheaper).

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