Please, Apple–More iPhone Carriers!

By  |  Thursday, April 16, 2009 at 1:04 pm

Verizon iPhoneI’m a little behind on this, but the Wall Street Journal is reporting that AT&T’s exclusive deal to sell the iPhone in the U.S. expires next year, and that the carrier is working furiously to get an extension until 2011. The company is selling millions of iPhones a quarter and luring plenty of customers from its rivals, so its interest in remaining the only source of iPhones makes perfect sense. But I can’t wish it well here–I think it’ll be a fabulous day for consumers when iPhones are available from one or more additional carriers.

I’m not engaging in AT&T-bashing here (you can find plenty of that elsewhere on the Web). I just like competition. I think that happy Verizon and Sprint customers shouldn’t have to dump their carrier to get iPhones. I’m hopeful that multiple carriers would mean lower prices for both the handset and the services associated with it. I believe that AT&T would have the greatest possible incentive to fix some of its network problems faster if its goal was to be the best iPhone carrier rather than the only iPhone carrier.

Unfortunately, consumers don’t get a say in the negotiations between AT&T and Apple. The wheeling and dealing will presumably boil down to whether AT&T is willing to wave enough money in Apple’s face to prevent it from striking deals with other carriers. If it does, the iPhone will remain an AT&T exclusive. But I hope that Apple asks for a boatload of money, and that AT&T blinks. And I’m curious to know just how hard it would be for Apple to have an iPhone ready that would run on the Verizon and/or Sprint networks.


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12 Comments For This Post

  1. Simon Says:

    I’m pretty optimistic on this one- I think Apple’s moves so far on the iPhone have been in the right direction. I think they’re dead serious about having as much of the smartphone market as they can, to which end they should have a hard keyboard model and a decent camera in the works, and be ready to open up to other carriers- worldwide- ASAP. Cover those three and the (perceived) shortcomings of the platform are pretty much wiped out…

  2. Tom Reestman Says:

    I don’t think it’s just about how much more AT&T will pay; it’s also about the cost to Apple for having the phone on other carriers.

    Certainly it wouldn’t be “hard” to have an iPhone ready for Verizon and others. After all, plenty of hardware makers do just that. But I think it’s the expense vs. payback. The cost of inventory, shipping, etc. for the additional SKUs. The cost of training Apple store personnel, the additional support and QA costs, etc.

    And all this for just 12 to 18 months? After that time 4G will be here and one iPhone will run on them all. That’s the key to me. Different phones per carrier was a no-brainer when it was the only way to get them there, but with 4G on the horizon Apple could consider simply waiting that out.

  3. Relyt Says:

    Welcome to the hotel of locked phones. I hope you enjoy your stay in your room – because you can’t leave. At all. And don’t bother calling for help because we won’t help you either.
    The iphone and all other locked phones really should be unlocked. I understand that the iphone is the most important phone out of all of them, but really, UNLOCK THEM ALL!!! (you hear me at&t, verizon, sprint, and t-mobile?)

  4. IcyFog Says:

    I’d have an iPhone by now if Verizon would’ve signed an exclusive deal with Apple instead of AT&T.

  5. Tom B Says:

    “I’d have an iPhone by now if Verizon would’ve signed an exclusive deal with Apple instead of AT&T.”

    Me too. I despise Verizon, but I’m not the decision maker on household expenses in my house, so I can’t drop them.

  6. JEF Says:

    Five years from now AT&T, Verizon & T-mobile will all be on LTE. Making the phones compatible for multiple networks is a short-term problem.

    We need to lay the groundwork today for unlocked phones (and new service plans that make it more desirable for consumers to use unlocked phones) so we can take advantage of the compatible networks when they arrive.

  7. Sarah Says:

    I really hope there are more carriers too. AT&T is the only option here and I don’t want to switch carriers.

  8. ralf Says:

    Believe it or not, there’s a pretty large number of people (like me, of course) who live in an area with only one or a few carriers. In my case, Verizon is it. Please, Apple, please. Let anyone carry your device.

  9. Bill McMinn Says:

    Of course it would be great if the iPhone would be available on any carrier just like it would be great if the Palm Pre or Google Android G1 were available on any carrier. This sounds like a bunch of sour grapes from Verizon subscribers that they only have the Blackberry Storm and Windows to choose from.

  10. Carl Says:

    I have been waiting patiently for iPhone to be avail thru Verizon for a long time now. Hmmm, 2010 doesnt sound so far away now. However, if Apple doesnt open up to other carriers, will hate it but will have to go with alternatives.

  11. Craig Says:

    I want APPLE TO PLEASE OPEN it for ALL!! Sprint is rolling out their new 4G network this fall, would be nice to try their Iphone with the faster speeds!

  12. SLC Slave Driver Says:

    January 7, 2011. I know this date by heart because that is the day my “contract” with Sprint expires. I’ve had an iPod Touch for almost a year now and I love it. Love. It. I’m a writer and I use it to make notes and email them to my main account. I use Google Earth to map my locations, Safari to find information, and apps that sync my docs to I can take my manuscript with me and write on the road…that is until I leave the wifi zone in my house. Then…I got nothin.

    The Sprint Instinct I got, thinking it was rival of the iPhone? Sad. Pathetic and sad. I want an iPhone, then I wont have to look for wifi spots and walk around with a phone and an ipod in my pocket. And unless Sprint starts selling them? I’m out. And I’ve been with Sprint for over 10 years.

    January 7, 2011.