Back at Macworld ’07 iPod marketing director Greg Jozwiak was asked why Apple had given exclusive carrier rights to AT&T. He explained that Apple couldn’t have been able to provide crucial features without an exclusive partner like AT&T. There is no doubt that’s true while the iPhone was under development, but now that the majority of the bugs have been worked out, but with iPhone stretching to a worldwide audience can Apple continue this tactic?
It made sense that the iPhone would end up with AT&T as they are the current top dog in the US cell industry. There is only one other carrier (Verizon) who could give them the infrastructure and deep pockets that Apple would need to create a nationwide phenomenon. As the iPhone went international, Apple Kept the trend alive by siding with the largest and most entrenched carriers in each country the struck deals in. The European cell market is far more competitive than the US market and it seems like this tactic may have contributed the slow pace of sales in Europe as well as the seemingly huge demand for unlocked iPhones. Even some Macheads in the US may not be willing to jump T-mobile or Verizon even for the iPhone’s siren-like call.
Most iPhone owners (even those happy with AT&T) would probably prefer to be able to choose their carrier straight out of the box rather than be tied to any single carrier. If other carriers are denied access to the iPhone, they’ll promote and push all the iPhone knock-offs they can find. That can’t spell good news for Apple. It’s clear that Apple makes more money off of AT&T by getting kickbacks on the contracts that customers sign. It seems that the raw sales numbers Apple would gain by selling the IPhone as a completely carrier agnostic would off-set the loss in profit from losing AT&T’s sweetheart deal. It may be the only way to improve the iPhone’s sales worldwide.