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Why Isn’t The iPhone On Every Carrier Yet?

by Sean P. Aune | January 19, 2010January 19, 2010 3:39 pm PDT

It has almost become like a sport in the United States to try to guess when the AT&T exclusivity of Apple’s iPhone will end. With most indications having always been that the iPhone would move over to Verizon exclusively if the opportunity should ever arise, one has to wonder why in the world the most desired phone is simply not on every carrier already.

While there certainly are benefits to Apple giving the iPhone to one carrier exclusively due to the company earning more per unit when such a deal is in place, one has to wonder if Apple isn’t losing even more money due to the number of people out there who don’t want to switch carriers, or simply don’t want to deal with AT&T.

iphone3gIt is not unheard of for Apple to allow the phone on more than one carrier in some countries, here is a sampling of countries where this has happened and how many carriers there are in each:

Country

# of Carriers

Argentina

2

Australia

4

Chile

2

Dominican Republic

2

France

3

Israel

3

Russia

3

UK

3

Uruguay

2

This list isn’t complete, but it does show there is a precedent for Apple working with multiple carriers, so why isn’t it happening in the United States?

There are numerous people out there that have said they won’t have an iPhone until it leaves AT&T, myself included.  Be it past bad experiences with the carrier, fear of its fabled poor network or just that you are already happy with your current carrier, Apple is losing out on a lot of potential customers by insisting that it stay with AT&T.  The current contract expires this year, and while it is known that the carrier is lobbying to extend it through 2011, and others hope this means it will go to Verizon, why not release it to any carrier who wants it?  True, you have the GSM/CDMA band dilemmas, but considering the possible money to be made, wouldn’t it be worth the engineering costs?

Another distinct benefit in that perhaps the United States Congress would stop eying what the cell phone industry does.  Let us not forget that just this past summer there were hearings of the Senate Commerce Committee over how exclusivity harms the consumer.  Considering the iPhone seemed to be the main focus of those hearings, it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea for Apple to free it from its current situation.

Yet another benefit for the consumer would be possible competition between the carriers to lure you to their network.  Instead of AT&T holding all of the marbles and charging you over $1200 a year to use your iPhone, imagine a price war breaking out between carriers to be the one to crow about how they have the most iPhone users.

There is no doubt I write this from a place of selfishness.  I would love to use an iPhone, but I also have a very long and unpleasant past with AT&T that guarantees that I will never work with them as a carrier again.  That being said, this is a situation that doesn’t make sense for anyone, and it really goes for every exclusive cell phone out there.  Free them all I say!


Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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