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
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
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