CEOh-SNAP: AT&T Says (Again!) iPhone Exclusivity Will End

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AT&T CEO Ralph de la Vega stated that his carrier's exclusive agreement to sell Apple's iPhone in the US... will end one day. Of course, we knew this. You knew this. AT&T and Apple knew this. Everybody knew this, because they've said it before. Still, on the eve of a highly successful quarterly results report, where the iPhone once again carrier the day for AT&T earnings, they obviously felt the need to say it again:

“We have a legacy of having a great portfolio…that will continue after the iPhone is no longer exclusive to us. We think we will continue after the iPhone…to drive [results]….” [...] “we feel really good about our non-iPhone [subscriber] adds and net adds…. We feel really strong about our portfolio in quick messaging devices, including BlackBerry and all the smartphones.” [...] “Even if we lose exclusivity [of the iPhone], we will be the only carrier with HSPA 7.2 [a network specification being deployed at AT&T] and [new devices] will work on our network faster. I feel as strongly as ever [about] the capability of devices in our lineup and [am] super-excited about the deals with e-readers and personal navigation devices."

Apparently, like Verizon, AT&T will seek post-iPhone solace in much more carrier-control friendly Android...

Footnote: 
[via Macworld]

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 65 comments. Add yours.

Ferrigno says:

Its coming... Sooner than later.... Can't wait

d.allen says:

Gotta get the stockholders ready.. make it clear it won't always be there.. but.. I doubt it goes to Verizon.. or Sprint for that matter.. and if it goes to T-Mobile, not to be a jerk, but it will still seem pretty AT&T exclusive.

matthew23 says:

where else in the US will it go? Verizon is launching an all-out attack on Apple for the Droiddoes commericals apparently not caring about burning bridges...Tmobile definately cannot support it - just got 3G (in the US). Looks like the best candidate is Sprint...but that will be the day....they don't have the coverage or subscriber base Verizon does...Where does Apple go after AT&T?

just_me#IM says:

It'll never go to Verizon for one simple reason, Apple won't let them emboss the Verizon logo on the front of the phone (or at least they shouldn't)

icebike says:

Matt:
Don't mistake posturing for facts.
Everybody is bobbing and weaving right now. Att says we might lose exclusivity. Verizon says we don't really want it. T-Mobil is playing cards close to the vest (but they could easily adopt it contrary to your assertions). Sprint is trying to sell the company.
Its all for show, and what is REALLY happening is only known to the lawyers.
Do not mistake the puppet show they are putting on as the real course of events.

klmsu19 says:

All i see here is him saying IF we lost the iphone exclusivity, we would still be ok. AKA we dont (even though they largely do) rely on the iphone to be successful
I see nothing that hints or implies its leaving anytime soon for anyone else.

appleking says:

sprint will get it. Hesses lineup will be second to none. A 4g wimax iphone.

klmsu19 says:

Oh boy, Sprint fanboys....
Sprint WONT get it. Why? Because they only have about 30 million postpaid CDMA customers. EVEN IF 10% of their customers buy an iphone (which ATT is at about- about 10 million out of 80 million customers), theyd only sell 3 million. ATT sold 3.2 million THIS QUARTER.
Itd make no financial sense to make a proprietary CDMA/WIMAX iphone to sell so few that no other carrier could even use.

icebike says:

@Appleking:
Sprint is on its death bed. They are 20 billion in debt, negative 10% revenue growth per year and running a negative profit margin.
They are shopping the company around looking for buyers.
They aren't going to pick up the iPhone. They're looking for someone to pick THEM up.
And Apple could buy Sprint three times over with its pocket change. Now THAT might be an interesting turn of events.....

HungWell says:

Like I said, when AT&T loses the iPhone you can stick them with a fork because they're done.

d.allen says:

@icebike
Apple buy Sprint..? hmmmm.. interesting indeed.

fastlane says:

Apple Wireless™ "More BOOM in more Places"

JayJay says:

Why would AT&T fail without the iPhone? They were profitable before.

taroliw says:

I couldn't care less if a CDMA version comes out... Besides, that would spoil Verizon's Droid marketing plan -- moreso than their ad agency apparently is already trying to. I am much more curious whether an actual UNLOCK will become available when exclusivity ends....

iDavey says:

I'm just kind of stricken by the "We're the only carrier with 7.2Mbps 3G"
Did they forget that T-Mobile is rolling out (and according to Project Dark, quickly and expansively) 21Mbps HSPA?
Hmm, T-Mobile is already familiar with iPhone on their network. I could see it going this way.
But then again as icebike said, there's no definite stuff out there. So it will be good to wait and see.

d.allen says:

@Bill
I have to admit, I sure hope that doesn't happen.. where it is unlocked to all carriers.. and no longer subsidised at all.. I don't think I could justify spending $800 bucks on the iphone(and I love my device).. I'd be buying an android for 2 bills pretty quickly.

Michael says:

@Hungwell
That doesn't make sense ATT isnt going anywhere without the iphone. Remember they are more than just a wirless company and have several other means of supporting the wireless side of the company. In fact if I'm not mistaken they are owned by a much larger company (SBC) and they aren't going anywhere. ATT may see a drop in revenue after the iphone contracts for their customers end but it will only be until the next major phone comes to their carrier. I'm sure the manufacturers are looking at the success apple sees with the iphone and may want to jump at the chance to sell their product through a company that was so succesful with the launch of the iphone.

SoCo_Jon says:

Renee...we know this....Renee we know this..oh snap!! i said it again!!

Bigmarv007 says:

What ever cellular phone company Apple Co. chooses will profit if Apple continues it sucess. A mojority of people including me will jump ship to follow the iPhone. AT&T sucks and I promise you I'm gone when the iPhone leaves. I'm with AT&T for the phone not the service just like the mojority of the iPhone users.

appleking says:

how the fuck is sprint dead? u asses are so stupid its unbelievable. sprint made a bad mistake and bought nextel thats all . they will get back on there feet. i was a sprint user before i became a iphone user. sprints network is better.

GinoDotCom says:

AT&T sucks so bad in NY. I can't wait to leave my rotten carrier.
3 dropped calls a day. It's routine by now. Sad.

chrisr1975 says:

I never understand why people say ATT is a bad network. I have been with ATT for 4 years and have never had any major concerns. I used to have Verizon before, now there service was decent but I had switched to ATT when I saw there phone slection was better.
I got the Iphone 3gs when it came out and have loved it. As far as MMS taking so long, who cares thats why I have email. ATT is fine in my area (Atlanta) and I also had great coverage while I lived in San Diego and Philadelpia. For me I don't see any other company able to handle the traffic the IPhone will bring. Sprint is a joke, T Moible 3g service is not up tomorrow. Verizon I just dont like they would want there name stamped all over it.

Andrea Cristiano says:

It doesn't really say it will. He says " even if we loose the iPhone" that isn't a definite we will Loose the iPhone

cardfan says:

Did anyone really expect him to say they're counting so heavily on the iphone? It's just public soundbites..

Andrea Cristiano says:

I will say this if anyone was to get it it would be tmobile. There new 21mbps network is gonna be almost fully out by this project dark and fully by the 2nd quarter of 2010. There 3G although gsm is a different freguency all apple would do is add a new frequency to the radio in the iPhone in version 4 coming out in the summer and now AT&T and t-mobile both sim card gsm companies have iPhone. Apple Will not make a CDMA version and verizon has burned it's bridges.

Joseph says:

METRO PCS WILL GET IT!!!

Joseph says:

Hahahahahahahahahahhahahahahah J/K LOL LOL.. AT&T 2 keep it 4 5 more years!!!! Um I tHink..I'm Patrick

Joseph says:

I think my iPhone 3gs is just great with AT&T..

Andrea Cristiano says:

Only One of the big four to get it would be tmobile makes sense. Tmobile Germany already has a deal with apple. Much easier to add a frequency to the radio ( which it could probably pick up already ) then make a CDMA version. Tmobile parent company has alot of money and is making a huge infrastructure investment.

Sadie says:

I certainly hope that this is true.

Andrea Cristiano says:

Yea like I said omAri summer 2010 to tmobile.

MikeNMiami says:

The Wait Is Ova!!! I love Rihanna's new song!!! Russian Roulette!!!

Andrea Cristiano says:

Mikenmiami WTF you talkin about

Omari James says:

If anything, I would want it to go to T-mo as Andrea Cristiano said.

Voxdan says:

Say what you want, but I have used three of the four carriers (have not had Verizon) and Sprint has been the best by a long shot for me. I stress the "for me" part, because it would be stupid to assume that people in different areas would all have the same coverage experience. But I have experience with Sprint, ATT and T-Mobile in Southern California from Ventura to San Diego, and Colorado along the whole Front Range, and without exception Sprint has been the best. Few if any dropped calls in those areas compared to ATT iphone and tmobile touch's.
Furthermore, while it is popular to rag on sprint for their poor customer service, I would bet that 90% of the whiners are people who were just relaying reports they had heard, or people who fail to realize that Sprint did have problems and they made huge changes to correct them. Over the last two years, I have had no customer service problems at all, have always been able to reach them quickly, and have always spoken to someone speaking plain english residing in this country. ATT tried for nearly 20 minutes, when I was calling to have my dead grandmother-in-laws phone canceled, to get me to keep it active because "maybe someone else would like to use it." Though they were totally aware that grandma just died, has no widow, and so forth, they wanted to put me on with their customer retention specialist.
In the end, Sprint has great coverage, great speeds, the best prices and packages, and great support barring usual exceptions.

Andrea Cristiano says:

I'm not ragging on sprint at all if they had a phone better than the iphone i would jump over in a heart beat.

LzarEus says:

I'm with Guido with his post up top...F that Verizon embossed logo shite. Hope it never goes to Verizon.

Dennis says:

It will be interesting to see what happens when AT&T loses iPhone exclusivity. Which carrier you have isn't always entirely a free choice for people; there is local coverage variability, but also carrier discounts that people get through work which play a big role. I'm curious to see if there will be a complete redistribution of iPhone users to different carriers or not.
@Chrisr1975: In my mind, the biggest problem with AT&T's 3G network is the fact that their coverage continues to be weakest in places of high population density, like NYC, Boston, and SF. Apparently the average iPhone call drop rate in NYC is around 30%. The fact that it is still so high represents a problem with their ability to put up enough infrastructure. Millions of people live in, regularly visit, or work in NYC. Insufficient network infrastructure in NYC means that consumers will avoid getting an AT&T phone or an AT&T data plan simply because of poor reliability.

matthew23 says:

I think Sprint has really picked things up in the last few years. I had sprint until last june when I switched to AT&T to get the iPhone. I left a sweet Sprint Sero deal to get the iPhone - I just could not stand WM devices anymore and was not really interested in Pre. I must say - I love the "i" part of the iPhone. As a device other than a phone it is the best portable device out there period. As a phone, one of the worst - probably because of how overloaded AT&T is. AT&T has been a complete nightmare for me. I dropped more calls in the first month wuth AT&T than I did in 10 years with sprint. People need to give Sprint more credit. The network (at least in Colorado, DC and Chicago where I have lived) was great. And, my wife has sprint in our condo building. Her phone works perfect - 3-4 bars all the time. My iphone - no service AT ALL. Not AT&T's fault per se (because verizon, t-mobile don't really work well there either) but Sprint is the only carrier that works in our building. Something to be said for Sprint.

kev says:

You people are all asses. Why would it have to go to just one other network? Its already a GSM phone so T-Mobile offering it would make sense. And if they build a CDMA one why not let both Sprint and Verizon offer it. All the other makers do it why wouldn't Apple do the same?

lennyj17 says:

Damn there a bunch of Sprint hating fucks on here....Do you know how stupid you sound saying that Apple will not give Sprint the iphone...
1.) the ATT exclusivity has sailed, if Apple was interested they would be made the announcement...
2.) Verizon NOT GETTING THE IPHONE....You dont blast APPLE in the media and expect to sell their products...Apple and Verizon are just TOOOOO Arrogant of companies to play nice.
3.) While I can see Apple releasing on T-MO, there 3G network is a JOKE to carry the 3GS or anything other then an Edge only device.
4.) Sprint has the best network next to Verizon to carry the iphone..Doesnt matter that Sprint only has 30million on CDMA...People will flock to Sprint if they land the iphone, people want off ATT so bad it kills them everytime that ATT bill comes. Sprint's EVDO network with an Iphone will KILL ALL!
You Sprint Haters really need to get a clue and your heads out of your ASSES!

kev says:

Competition isn't always good for the consumer. Instead of all the carriers getting together and building one super network from coast to coast and then sharing it they all decided to build there own networks. Much more expensive to do and it reflects on plan prices. If you remember AT&T was TDMA before Cingular bought them. That was a total of 3 different technologies co-existing. We are far behind other countries when it comes to celluar. Video conferencing has been available for yrs but not yet in the US. Epic Fail for all the carriers

Andrea Cristiano says:

Bro apple is not making a CDMA iPhone just for America not gonna happen

HDGuru7 says:

You guys aren't looking at the big picture. Look outside of the United States. The iPhone is on multiple carriers, everywhere. That's going to happen here. Apple wants it's flagship product sold to as many people as it possibly can. I had one, got rid of it simply because in WI, their service sux big time. Tons of dropped calls and the slow data speeds. I picked up an HTC Hero and both of my issues were resolved.
So AT&T will lose exclusivity, but they won't stop selling the phone. They'll have it and someone else like T-Mobile or Sprint might be able to pick it up to sell it. I would prefer if both did. It just needs to come sooner rather than later.
I've actually gone through the Hero, the Palm Pre and now a Blackberry Tour. NONE of them have the ease of use that the iPhone does. But the service (FOR ME) can't be beat.
Apple needs to pick up their game though. Get the specs to compete or even rival what the Android phones that are now coming out with and it's a win win situation for everyone.
HD

kev says:

Dude do your homework before you talk ish . There are countries other than America that have CDMA networks.

Andrea Cristiano says:

KeV ask yourself this question do any of those countries sell iPhone? Answer is NO so do your homework. There's a reason why they don't have one. APPLE ISNT MAKING ONE IMBECILE!! So do your homework tool

kev says:

VZW has 87 million subs and Sprint has 48 million which adds up to 135 million people. That's 33% of the total population in America, of which a double digit percentage which get an iPhone immediately if offered by their carrier. For how long can apple ignore that pot of gold? Did Apple not start using Intel chips so mac users have the versatility to use both windows and the apple OS on one computer. Why? Because it made good business sense. There are no burned bridges when there's money to be made.

kev says:

Andrea try understanding what you read before talking ish as well. All I'm saying is that a CDMA could be marketed elsewhere than just the US. I know there isn't a CDMA iPhone but people think that its only here in the states that have CDMA networks.

Andrea Cristiano says:

You don't seem to understand CDMA is a dying platform eventually 2015-2020 or so the CDMA will be gone even for voice at that point maybe we can see a verizon iPhone. The R&D to make a CDMA customer is to much. Besides how many millions are in Korea or the other few CDMA countries? They haven't realeased one in all the years it has been avaialble. Would it Not have made bussiness sense to offer a CDMA version all these years for them? You are also discounting how many people will jump to say t-mobile when they get theirs. For apple to add the 2100mhz frequency to the existing radio is pennies compared to completely remaking the iPhone for a dying technology. It's not worth making a phone for a technology that has a max 10 year shelf life when he majority of he world is GSM. That's bussiness sense my friend

Andrea Cristiano says:

Ps I know USA is not the only CDMA. If you read above you will see that if it was just about subscribers it would make sense and it should have been here. In the BIG picture the CDMA customers globally compared to GSM are a small minority especially that the CDMA tech is on it's way out. Another reason sprint won't get it as well, they are moving to a CDMA/wimax combo that no one will have.

kev says:

BTW Andrea VZW is already testing its LTE network in both Boston and Seattle and is slated to open 30 markets by the end of 2010 and rumor has it that Apple has been testing it's iPhone 4G on it. Don't believe me? Go to fonefrenzy.com and read it for yourself.

Andrea Cristiano says:

Bro Rumor is just that rumor. I won't say where I know and how I know but rumors unfounded

kev says:

And GSM isn't a dying technology? Of course it is. And it isn't that hard making a phone with both CDMA and GSM. RIM has been making BBs with both CDMA and quad band GSM and now HTC is doing it as well.

kev says:

Riddle me this Andrea. Why did Apple steal a bunch of CDMA engineers/designers from Qualcomm? Apple had want ads for CDMA engineers like 8-9 months ago. That plus being in secret talks with Verizon is what started all the rumors in case you didn't know.

Andrea Cristiano says:

Those are for an apple tablet genius.

Andrea Cristiano says:

The apple tablet will be launched with both CDMA and GSM antennas. So once again you stand corrected

kev says:

OHH!!! The fabled iTablet, and when did Apple announce that? Or is it fact because many websites spread that rumor? No one except the people talking knows what was discussed and they've done a pretty good job at keeping leaks from happening.

Andrea Cristiano says:

As you assume I don't know. That is all well. You have no clue who I am or what I know. You taut your assumptions as fact and my facts as assumptions. Do as you will we will see in the end

kev says:

Well Miss Thing you're neither my mother nor my girl and you do not pay my salary so I couldn't care less about who you are, and name one thing I stated as fact that isn't true.

Peter says:

I've been waiting on Verizon to get an iPhone so I got a Blackberry Storm (bad decision)! Verizon's new attack on iPhone was the last straw. I've quit Verizon and switched to AT&T. My new iPhone is amazing...best decision yet!!!

Darnell says:

I hope verizon picks up the iPhone so I can go back. AT&T network coverage has to many drop zones in my area.

Kacie says:

AT&T has given me first-rate customer service, although their national coverage is a bit spotty. Verizon has the best coverage, but they are super-shady and tried to f*** me for thousands is $. No matter how good their network is, I'm never giving those bastards another cent of mine.

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