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  (Source: The Huffington Post)
Apple may still try to squirm its way out of exclusivity

Those who follow the smartphone industry knew that Apple and AT&T had a very tight contract with the iPhone which has compelled the electronics maker to stay AT&T exclusive to date.  However, it was unclear just how long that contract was good for, until now. According to unsealed court documents uncovered by Engadget, AT&T has exclusive rights to sell the iPhone in the U.S. until 2012.

The documents come from a California antitrust class action lawsuit.  The plaintiffs claim that Apple attempted to create an illegal monopoly in 2007 when it failed to reveal that the secret deal would make it impossible for them to transfer their phones to other carriers in 2 years, without unlocking.

The case also accuses Apple of antitrust violations for blocking third party applications, a concern that still exists thanks to Apple's blocking of Flash and Flash ports, actions the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is currently examining for antitrust violations.

The court documents read:

The duration of the exclusive Apple-[AT&T] agreement was not 'secret' either. The [plaintiff] quotes a May 21, 2007 USA Today article – published over a month before the iPhone's release – stating, "AT&T has exclusive U.S. distribution rights for five years-an eternity in the go-go cellphone world."
"[T]here was widespread disclosure of [AT&T's] five-year exclusivity and no suggestion by Apple or anyone else that iPhones would become unlocked after two years... Moreover, it is sheer speculation – and illogical – that failing to disclose the five-year exclusivity term would produce monopoly power...

While the contract with AT&T is surely tight, it's possible Apple could payoff AT&T to cancel the contract, attempt to amend it, or declare it breached and fight it out in court.  There's a very real possibility, though, that it will simply stick it out till 2012, which would mean that 3 more years, and the next two iPhone models would be AT&T exclusive (in the U.S.).

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4G iPhone
By daveinternets on 5/10/2010 8:14:46 PM , Rating: 2
Is pretty much useless then if it is only on AT&T. From what I have read they do not have serious 4G plans until 2012.

RE: 4G iPhone
By mcnabney on 5/10/2010 9:04:32 PM , Rating: 2
They are at least a year, likely more, behind Verizon. Sprint is off to an earlier start, but Verizon has the cash to roll LTE across most of their network in short-order while Sprint is spending what little money they have on select markets.

RE: 4G iPhone
By TheRequiem on 5/10/10, Rating: -1
RE: 4G iPhone
By retrospooty on 5/10/2010 10:04:54 PM , Rating: 1
wow, very angrily pedantic arent you...

Anyhow, your creepyness aside, Sprint may have a lead in this now, but they will find a way to blow it, and Verizon will still be the better solution.

RE: 4G iPhone
By Mitch101 on 5/12/2010 8:36:18 AM , Rating: 2
This Press Release to me is like Apple waving a red flag saying hey you can take another chunk of our market share if you made droid based iPod units. Oh Wait we shouldnt have acknowledged that.

RE: 4G iPhone
By Chaser on 5/11/2010 7:31:36 AM , Rating: 3
Ok so how's their 3G coverage? Please.

Since you didn't site your facts I'll post some too. Most investors with expertise in communications are betting their money on LTE.

As far as some other company blah blah one cares. This is a Sprint initiative and until I see some Clearwire commercials, well talk to the hand. One simply needs to look at Sprint's 3G network coverage maps, even their regular phone service coverage maps to see that Sprint's service is abysmal compared to Verizon.

Why will Verizon's deployment of LTE take longer? Because Verizon doesn't **** around. When they deploy new technology they are slow and methodical to ensure they uphold their legacy of the BEST coverage of any carrier in the U.S. Which is what they will do with LTE.
Sprint is marketing these gimmicks to slow the hemmoraging of its subscribers to other networks. Clearwire may have "billions" but Sprint is in trouble.

RE: 4G iPhone
By semiconshawn on 5/11/2010 9:46:05 AM , Rating: 3
Yey verizon, twice as much money so I can have 3g in whashatoe kansas...neat. Maybe if I was a truck driver or salesman. And poor under funded wimax clear how will they ever make it with broke investers like intel shoveling billions of dollars into them? As for LTE thats awesome, show me where I can sign up and use it. Today. Cause I use Clear right now and it works great ever tried it? oh no wait you read some tech articles and regurgitated someone elses opinions....

RE: 4G iPhone
By weskurtz0081 on 5/11/2010 1:04:22 PM , Rating: 2
Used some 4G devices, they have since been returned. The 3G coverage with those devices was fine, but 4G was hit or miss.

So, IMO, it's not really a 4G vs LTE debate, it's 3G vs 3G until wimax has halfway decent coverage, even IN Houston the coverage is meh.

RE: 4G iPhone
By adiposity on 5/11/2010 1:06:50 PM , Rating: 2
I live in California Bay Area and Sprint coverage here is terrible compared to Verizon. That's not "whasatoe kansas," pal.

Verizon's coverage is better just about everywhere you look. Hell, any provider is better than Sprint, but I know that's just gonna make you mad...

RE: 4G iPhone
By retrospooty on 5/11/2010 3:09:27 PM , Rating: 2
verizon is $30 per month for unlmited. Who is doing that for $15?

RE: 4G iPhone
By seamonkey79 on 5/11/2010 4:24:04 PM , Rating: 2
Sprint does it for $10 unlimited.

That being said, I switched from Verizon to Sprint for a total of two days before I switched back because I tired of losing 'net when the 3G would drop.

My sister and brother-in-law live in Chicago, about 5 minutes from the United Center, and they just switched to Verizon from Sprint because the 4G box they purchased for their house kept dropping 4G and going to 3G, but not even much of that.

Sprint is a lousy network, even in larger cities (Chicago being a somewhat decently sized city). My Verizon phone works between Chicago and Joliet and down to Champaign just fine, but their Sprint phones hardly work in the city. The saddest part, the most telling point of poor Sprint service in their area? They switched to the Droid Eris and are impressed with its speed...

RE: 4G iPhone
By EasyC on 5/11/2010 11:24:25 AM , Rating: 2
I've been on multiple road trips with friends who have Verizon. They kept having to use my phone (Sprint). Not to mention Sprint offers MUCH more in terms of contracts for price. I get unlimited everything (not just voice). I made calls from Canada and didn't get charged 1 cent extra. Someone I know who has verizon... had a huge bill. They have big reds version of the unlimited plan.

The service coverage is negligable. I'll stick with getting more for my money. Thanks.

RE: 4G iPhone
By inperfectdarkness on 5/11/2010 3:18:20 PM , Rating: 2
my money goes to whoever has the cheapest & most reliable tethering option without data limits.

RE: 4G iPhone
By semiconshawn on 5/11/2010 4:27:17 PM , Rating: 2
Thats simply impossible. It is not possible to have a better experience on Sprint than Verizon you must be mistaken. Verizon cost twice as much so it must be better everywhere all the time.

RE: 4G iPhone
By RugbyChix on 5/10/2010 9:51:01 PM , Rating: 2
McNabney as already made the point about Spring and Clearwire, so we will move to point two. LTE is a GSM/UMTS/HSPDA derived technology and little if any of the existing Verizon CDMA2000 3G infrastructure will will be reusable. LTE allows for switching between both legacy GSM technologies and CDMA flavors, meaning that the people the first 4G phones will roam without issue. And Verizon will already have the tower rentals and the fiber to the towers.

AT&T will have some equipment where all they have to do is change the firmware on the radios and the they will be good to go (assuming they have enough spectrum available, which TMO has...AT&T less so.)

RE: 4G iPhone
By mcnabney on 5/11/2010 12:01:22 AM , Rating: 2
You really don't understand wireless. LTE may have evolved from GSM, but it requires completely different equipment from the antenna to the switch. Oh, and don't forget the backhaul.

And Clearwire is pathetic. I am so impressed at their money losing operations in Chicago, Atlanta, Greensboro, Philladelphia, Portland, Seatle, Vegas, and several communities in Texas. It will be even more pathetic after Centurytel/Embarq/Qwest buys Sprint (or maybe they will buy T-Mobile, it is obvious that they want into wireless).

CDMA and EVDO are related, but they are completely different technologies that require completely different equipment and spectrum portfolios to operate. Adding LTE to their offerings will be very similar to adding EVDO five years ago. You might have noticed how fast Verizon covered their entire footprint in EVDO. The only problem to this would be if spectrum was in short supply, which that isn't a problem for Verizon since the last auction when they bought an entire block that covers the entire nation.

So LTE will roll out as a third layer on the Verizon network. Eventually they will eliminate both CDMA and EVDO in favor os VoIP for voice, but that will take years.

RE: 4G iPhone
By Chaser on 5/11/2010 7:35:37 AM , Rating: 2
I'm no expert. I read the white papers and articles. Will LTE allow a Verizon phone to do simultaneous phone and data service?

RE: 4G iPhone
By semiconshawn on 5/11/2010 10:00:39 AM , Rating: 2
Seriously tho what is the argument for lte right now? Where can I get it and use it? Its like saying DVD's are better than VHS two years before DVD's come out. Thats going to be great, but how do I get mobile 4g now? and what is the downside when there is no contract? the 100 bucks for the usb modem?

RE: 4G iPhone
By wifiwolf on 5/11/2010 10:35:46 AM , Rating: 2
3G and 3GS sold like water in the desert with AT&T...
I really thought the rumours about next iphone comming to verizon was only to stop Incredible's sales.

By Abrahmm on 5/10/2010 7:56:31 PM , Rating: 5
That is really a shocker! So much for the rumors of a Verizon phone.

This is probably the best thing that could happen to Android! By the time this contract is up, Android will be dominating the market.

RE: Wow!
By bbomb on 5/10/2010 7:58:10 PM , Rating: 2
Yup and since Apple seemingly refuses to allow AT&T to have any other comparable smartphone, AT&T may have screwed up big time.

RE: Wow!
By akugami on 5/10/2010 11:01:20 PM , Rating: 2
I think it really depends on what's in the actual contract. There could be enough wiggle room for Apple that they can create an OSX phone, even though the iPhone is just that, and claim compatibility with iTunes and iTunes apps. With slight differentiation, branding, and a lot of marketspeak it'll look like a whole new product/brand when everyone and their mother's goat knows it's an iPhone. It'll still sync with iTunes, use the same app files, have pretty much the same OS and interface.

RE: Wow!
By Omega215D on 5/11/2010 3:34:29 AM , Rating: 4
After playing with the HTC Incredible all I have to say is "what iPhone?"

Hate to say it....
By Smartless on 5/10/2010 7:56:15 PM , Rating: 2
But its Apple's loss. With all the bad press AT&T has gotten, and the rising of Android... You don't have to be an Apple fan-boy to respect the iPhone and you don't have hate AT&T to believe all the bad press they've gotten. All I know is, my contract is up at AT&T (which has great coverage here), so come July am I getting the best phone for me. Is it so hard to tell me what droid phones are coming down the pipe?

RE: Hate to say it....
By mcnabney on 5/10/2010 9:13:05 PM , Rating: 4
Tons of them. Verizon is releasing an LG android right on the heels of the Droid Incredible. Expect a constant stream - which has been Google's plan all along.

Don't try to design the 'coolest' phone. Design a robust and open platform. That will let the engineers at HTC, Motorola, Samsung, LG, and others think of innovative ways to fine tune different designs to fit different tastes.

Need the highest performance, but no keyboard - the Incredible is what you have been demanding. Want to save some money and keep the keyboard, pick up the Devour. Want something that blends the LG feature-phone legacy with Android, LG has a new QWERTY-slider on the way. Want something just like the iPhone, the old Droid Eris is there for you. Maybe something bulky and manly - that woul be the Droid. See, that way people can pick an android that fits their tastes, needs, size, and pocketbook.
All the iFans have the same device. Do you really want to have the exact same phone as so many other people.

RE: Hate to say it....
By semiconshawn on 5/11/2010 10:08:32 AM , Rating: 2

Jokes on Jobs and Apple
By ChipDude on 5/11/2010 12:03:11 AM , Rating: 2
If this is true what a huge mistake by Jobs and Apple management, LOL. Apple again pisses away a superior technology/platform with bonehead mistake.

Locking up with ATT so limits Apple in one of its biggest and its most important market. Enough people are are fed up with ATT and there are so many users at Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile that lust a smartphone but won't touch ATT. This gives a huge market to android.

Apple really screwed this one up. What is worst haveing a hit that you limited or a huge hit where you can't keep up with demand.

RE: Jokes on Jobs and Apple
By JackTheRipper13 on 5/11/2010 1:55:26 AM , Rating: 3
If memory serves me correct, Verizon pissed away the Apple contract... it was offered to them first...

RE: Jokes on Jobs and Apple
By Bateluer on 5/11/2010 3:03:13 AM , Rating: 3
Verizon also wanted full control of the iPhone UI, and I'm told, the App Store as well. The iPhone launching on Verizon originally wouldn't have had the consumer positive effects that launching on AT&T has had.

Big Deal
By retrospooty on 5/10/2010 8:34:56 PM , Rating: 2
3 years ago it was big... Now, in typical Apple fashion, they took their innovative headstart and sat on it while the open platform world passed them by. Droid and Web OS are now better than iphone, so exlusivity means little to anyone other than ATT's stockholders. There are better phone options running on better networks... The question I have is why would anyone still buy an iphone?

RE: Big Deal
By bbomb on 5/10/2010 8:38:15 PM , Rating: 1
because 99% of all portable media accessories and hookups to major electronic components are made for the ipod/iphone.

RE: Big Deal
By retrospooty on 5/10/2010 8:52:49 PM , Rating: 2
That's a pretty damn thin straw to grasp at.

Most people don't use any of that, and for those that do, most things are available for any popular phone. Droids and Pre's are newer and have less, but now that the Droid is outselling the iphone, more accessories will be made.

Accessories follow phone trends, not vice versa.

By atlmann10 on 5/11/2010 1:41:35 PM , Rating: 3
Apple is screwing themselves just like the PC Vs. Apple fight, or apple demise. Yes they have there app store and mobile devices now. If they don't wise up, and fast they will be in the same position as they were in the previously mentioned market segment.

As a market player (computer wise) Apple deals to a very specialized and small compared market segment. The decisions they have and are still making with the i platforms is the same. Therefore the outcome will be the same in the end. Blackberry still holds the number one spot. Android has overcome iPhone, and is chomping at Blackberry now.

Apple is locked in to a solo provider who inherently makes questionable market decisions and has for years. Do not forget Verizon started as a developmental division of At&t, but left them because they refused to be innovative basically, and have now outdone them in market capitalization as well as coverage map considerably.

The Android platform as other have mentioned is open, and does not require the ridiculous closed platform requirements Apple now demands. So I would say when 4G hits, and equipment like the EVO hits the market, both Apple and At&t market hold will start to erode.

If Sprint's network can handle the large amount of traffic they are about to get they will move up over At&t. Then it will be the current market leader number one with Verizon eating at that market percentage. At&t loosing share, but implementing changes slower than anyone. Sprint nipping at their tales (and over them most likely before the year is out, and T-mobile (who is supposedly implementing 4G now) nipping at them in two years I bet At&t will be number 4 or 5 on market capitalization.

This will in the end, and because of Apple's wise decisions mean Apple will be dropping like a rain drop from a cloud quarter after quarter. In the end there decision to remain closed as they have done for years, but cool looking will equal the same thing. Apple will again become a small market player.

Let us also not forget that HP just bought Palm, and is projecting (as are many market players) to have a very competitive tablet on the market by years end, not to mention new smart phones as well. This all erodes Apple's market. In the end much like 5 years ago all they will have are fan boy's and girls as all there market share.

The iPhone bubble will burst because of Apple and Mr Job's wise decision's as has been demonstrated before with superior (IIE) product, at that time in the market.

By bbomb on 5/10/2010 7:54:56 PM , Rating: 2
They sued over not being allowed to use the phone on another network? I bet they tried to get it to work on Verizon and Sprint didn't they?

By sleepeeg3 on 5/11/2010 4:51:22 AM , Rating: 2
An iPhone is just a phone. Switch carriers or find a better one. There are many.

Sent from my cOmputer

By satveeraj on 5/11/2010 9:03:32 PM , Rating: 2
Wait!!!! What?????.......nevermind its AT&T. I just hope I dont have to see Luke Wilson for another 2 years.

Rumor Mill
By thecynch on 5/12/2010 5:16:37 PM , Rating: 2
Here's my 50-second video response to the Verizon-iPhone rumors:

the truth about sprint
By Xarthos on 5/25/2010 11:34:05 AM , Rating: 2
My hospital system's Information Services group in a NC city went to sprint last year based on saving money and being in downtown. Someone apparently thought we could save lots of money. My first day with the phone I was on roaming standing in front of the hospital. We had all kinds of problems.

We have moved to Verizon this May and the move has been well received by everyone in Information Services. No more roaming in the middle of a major city.

"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen

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