AT&T Signed 5 Year Exclusivity Deal for iPhone
One of the biggest questions for cell phone networks and smartphone users over the last few years has been how much longer the iPhone will remain exclusive to the AT&T network. Now court documents have surfaced confirming AT&T and Apple signed a 5-year exclusivity deal for the iPhone.
The news is especially pertinent considering the number of rumors about a Verizon iPhone that have been circulating for nearly a year.
Engadget found court documents filed in a class-action lawsuit in 2007 (the year the iPhone came out and the deal was signed) claiming Apple and AT&T forced an iPhone monopoly on consumers because they did not disclose the 5-year deal. Apple lawyers acknowledged the 5-year deal in their counter arguments.
Apple lawyers even cited a USA Today article from May 21, 2007 that reports on the 5-year deal.
These legal documents confirm Apple and AT&T entered into an agreement to not sell the iPhone on any other network until 2012. So does that mean there is no hope for consumers who want the iPhone on another network?
There is still a chance that those people won't have to wait until 2012. There are myriad ways to cancel, breach or dissolve these kinds of contracts, and many industry experts believe the deal may have already been renegotiated. When Apple struck a deal with AT&T to offer 3G service for the iPad, the two companies could have changed the terms of the agreement in any number of ways.
Given the popularity of the iPhone , there is real incentive for Apple to get out of the deal. Millions of customers on other networks are likely to buy an iPhone if it appears on other networks, according to a recent survey, meaning that Apple is actually losing sales by remaining exclusive with AT&T.
Conversely, AT&T enrollment numbers are low enough that it would actually be losing subscribers overall if it weren't for new iPhone enrollments, so it's no wonder the network would want to retain an exclusive deal on the iPhone.