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AT&T hopes for iPhone to be synonymous with the company in five year exclusive

Apple’s iPhone is arguably this year’s most hotly anticipated consumer device. AT&T already accelerated its plans to rebrand the Cingular properties in preparation of the iPhone’s arrival – and apparently, its efforts may be well placed as the iPhone could be an AT&T-exclusive for five years, according to a USA Today story.

Being an AT&T-exclusive means that the iPhone will remain a GSM phone, leaving it clearly out of reach for CDMA wireless users. Verizon Wireless and Sprint are both CDMA shops, and customers of those carriers who wish to get the iPhone will have no other choice but to make the move to AT&T.

T-Mobile is another GSM carrier in the U.S., and its network would likely be able to support the iPhone’s calling features, but AT&T will be the only company authorized to officially sell and market the iPhone. Furthermore, all iPhone’s sold through AT&T will be ‘locked’ to the network, disallowing those phones to connect to another carrier even with a different SIM card.

"I'm glad we have (the iPhone) in our bag," says Stan Sigman, CEO of wireless at AT&T. "Others will try to match it, but for a period of time, they're going to be playing catch-up."

According to data collected by Forrester Research, about 78 percent of U.S. households have a mobile phone. Charles Golvin, an analyst at Forrester, believes anybody who wants a cell phone has one. The other 22 percent without cell phones, he says, "are the very young, the very old and the economically challenged" – none of which are target markets for the iPhone.





"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
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