The AT&T exclusivity has undoubtedly cost Apple money. Even having one other carrier that can handle the iPhone would open up that market in an exceptional way. I don’t have an iPhone (and I am a massive Apple fangirl, iMac, MacBook, two iPods) because I’ve got a contract wth Verizon and get a discount with them via my work; the cost difference is significant. The AT&T thing is my biggest disappointment out of WWDC.
In addition to that they get a cut of subscription fees each month.
I hate exclusivity in the cell phone industry. But, I realize it is a necessary evil. Without the subsidies that the companies offer for high end phones the product it would be out of the price range of most purchasers.
I used to agree with that, but these days people are spending 80 bucks a month for phone and data plans. These phones cost only a few months worth of the service. Back when I purchased my last phone (as opposed to getting it free, which is what I do most of the time now), I spent the equivalent of 10 months of service (about 250 bucks) on the phone.
Thirded. I’ve opted for Sprint and the Samsung Instinct, which is a great phone but doesn’t have the widespread availability of third-party apps that the iPhone does. If only I could have the iPhone with Sprint, or the Instinct with iPhone apps… sigh
I have been on AT&T for years. I had to be on either AT&T or TMobile (and TMobile sucks way worse) because they are the only ones on GSM and I used to travel internationally a lot. AT&T isn’t actually that bad here and has gotten much better over the years. I’m glad that it ended up that way because I live my iPhone. I am annoyed that I have to wait to get one of the new ones to avoid paying the $200 premium.
Two years ago, Apple had never made a phone. They needed to find a carrier who would be willing to support several new features (visual voicemail, for one), and have a reasonably priced plan with unlimited data. The only way they were able to do that was to grant exclusivity. Once the iPhone became a huge success, they then struck a new deal - reduce the up-front price of the phone by getting a subsidy from AT&T. The only way AT&T was going to do that is to pretty much guarantee that people weren’t going to buy iPhones through them, and then defect to another carrier. And, it’s not just the two-year contract they are worried about - AT&T has signed up enormous numbers of new subscribers, just because of the iPhone. They don’t want them defecting after their contract is up.