USA Today reported in an article published today that AT&T has exclusive rights to the iPhone in the United States for a period of five years. That's right, FIVE years. Exclusivity agreements between mobile phone device manufacturers and service providers are nothing new, especially in the United States. That said, a 5 year exclusivity agreement is unheard of.
AT&T, like Apple, is happy to hang their hat on the iPhone. Both companies are betting on, and expecting, big returns from the iPhone after it is released this june. And, according to USA Today, AT&T's CEO - Stan Sigman - isn't afraid to play hardball. USA Today quoted Sigman as saying:
"I'm glad we have (the iPhone) in our bag," he says. "Others will try to match it, but for a period of time, they're going to be playing catch-up."
That period of time, we now know, is a very very LONG period of time. For customers of CDMA networks like Verizon and Sprint, or even other non-AT&T GSM/UMTS networks, this essentially means giving up on the iPhone.Who knows how many iPhones will be on the streets 2, 3, 4 years from now? How many will be able to resist? Will you?