AT&T Exclusivity To End With Apple T-Mobile Partnership?

T-Mobile to be next apple partner in US

In a note to investors a few weeks back, Brian Marshall, an analyst at Broadpoint AmTech had predicted the AT&T-Apple exclusive deal to end by mid of next year. 

The talking point of this story has been which is the other carrier that Apple could partner now. 

Analysts have been increasingly pointing towards Verizon. Not only has the carrier expressed its interest in partnering Apple, but also there have been reports about Apple building a UMTS/CDMA hybrid iPhone which is due to be launched next year. Besides, it is already known that Verizon is building a next gen LTE network due to be deployed by late next year or 2011. Also, being the largest wireless carrier with 71 million subscribers, it makes business sense for Apple to expand their market by partnering with Verizon. 

But could there be an anti-climax? Thomas Weisel analyst, Doug Reid predicts that given the recent spate of promotional attacks unleashed by Verizon against the iPhone as well as its growing proximity to Google, Apple's next carrier partner might not be Verizon after all. Doug claims that the AT&T exclusivity could be ended with a partnership with Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile instead. 

That could take a lot of observers by surprise since by choosing to not partner with the country's largest wireless carrier, Apple could be committing a virtual harakiri. However, it is quite possible that this decision to not partner could be forced more from Verizon's end than from Apple. By choosing to partner a product that the company claims is inferior to Motorola Droid, Verizon could be diluting their own brand value and standing. Also, this is not the first time that an Apple-Verizon partnership has fallen apart. Their earlier negotiations in 2007 too was called off after Verizon's terms of the deal was not accepted by Apple. 

Nevertheless, if a deal with T-Mobile indeed happens, it could be interesting to see how well T-Mobile's network can stand up to iPhone users' voracious data consumption. Brian Marshall predicts the new partnership to begin from June of next year; about the same time when we think Apple will launch their next generation of iPhone. As we had already pointed out, AT&T could be reducing its subsidy on the iPhone from $450 to $300 in case the exclusivity ends. While that could potentially affect the sale volumes, the presence of an additional carrier in T-Mobile should effectively counter this scenario. 

What do you think? Will T-Mobile make a better partner than Verizon? Please tell us your opinion. 

[via The Street]

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