Analyst: 75% Probability That AT&T’s iPhone Exclusivity Will Prevail in 2010

75% probability for A&T exclusivity to continue in 2010

Innumerable speculations have been made in the past over when AT&T's exclusive carrier rights over the iPhone in US would end. 

While there are positive indications towards a CDMA iPhone launching later this year, analysts at Credit Suisse disagree with that line of thought. 

In an elaborate 60 page report on the subject, Credit Suisse research analyst Jonathan Chaplin writes that there is a 50% probability for AT&T's exclusivity to end this year. However, there is another 25% probability for Ma Bell to secure another year of exclusivity through rebidding. This, he says comprehensively means a 75% chance for AT&T to retain its exclusivity through 2010. He writes:

"We conclude there is only a 50% probability that it (exclusivity) ends in 2010. Next, we try to determine whether AT&T bids for another year of exclusivity if exclusivity does end in 2010. We conclude they would and they can afford to compensate Apple such that Apple would be economically indifferent. Our approach yields a 25% probability for this outcome. Taken together, we see a 75% probability that AT&T keeps exclusivity for another year."

For his analysis , Chaplin says he considered four different scenarios

  • AT&T and Apple agree to extend exclusivity by one year
  • AT&T loses exclusivity but Apple fails to make a CDMA handset in 2010
  • AT&T loses exclusivity and Apple launches a CDMA handset
  • Both companies have already agreed to end exclusivity only in 2011. 

Based on this, Chaplin says AT&T is well placed to counter challenge from Verizon in all, but the third scenario. With the HSPA 7.2 3G technology expected to roll out by the end of this year, AT&T should be able to fix its network in the next 12-18 months. This implies that an end to exclusivity later than mid-2011 should give Verizon very little advantage over AT&T in terms of network superiority. Chaplin suggests this could be the most probable scenario as well. He further adds

"Our analysis suggests that Apple will eventually sell the device at all carriers; however, there is a much greater probability that AT&T keeps exclusivity for another 12-18 months than investors realize. We think this has profound impacts for Apple, the carriers and the other handset OEMs."

It will be interesting to see if AT&T is able to convince Apple to push ahead for one more year of exclusivity though. Both Verizon and AT&T should have improved their infrastructure by 2011, and given the popular perceptions about AT&T's poor network in recent times, Verizon would feel compelled to offer iPhone to their customers before that perception changes. 

Are you waiting for Apple to launch a Verizon iPhone? Let us know your views in the comments. 

[via Apple Insider]