"An iPhone, an iPhone, my carrier's reputation for an iPhone." Grab a cup of coffee and get yourself comfortable, fans of behind-the-scenes industry drama. Wired has published an exhaustive and fascinating expose on the "loveless celebrity marriage" that is Apple and AT&T -- all from sources familiar with the matters but who cannot (or will not) be named, of course. In other words, don't take this as gospel, but frankly, none of this sounds too crazy or outside the realm of what we've already surmised ourselves. In brief, the two companies have been contentious towards one another since just after the iPhone was unveiled. For AT&T's part, the carrier was reportedly taken aback when its requests (delivered by Senior VP Kris Rinne) to restrict YouTube's bandwidth usage (or make it WiFi-only) while the network infrastructure was built up fell on deaf ears in Cupertino. Word has it Apple also refused to allow its devices to be used in campaigns to combat Verizon's Map for That ads: "It was [effective] because of AT&T's network. We would have been letting them use the iPhone to put lipstick on a pig," remarked one anonymous Apple exec.
What's most interesting to us here is the ongoing reported discussion to drop AT&T in favor for Verizon. That chapter apparently begins just months after the original's launch, with an investigative team (including Scott Forstall) ultimately concluding that Qualcomm's CDMA (or CDMA / GSM hybrid) chips would require a complete redesign of the device, not to mention a nasty lawsuit with AT&T over its exclusive contract (perhaps a minor issue, knowing Apple). Back then, Verizon wasn't seen as a guaranteed improvement, and according to one executive privy to such meetings, the carrier switch has been discussed at least a half dozen times, with the general consensus always being that it would "cause as many problems as it solved." We can't imagine this is gonna help stem the perpetual VZW iPhone rumor mill.
Hit up the source link for the full tale, which does hit on a fundamental issue of the mobile industry going forward: as smartphone makers continue to push their devices' capabilities, bandwidth concerns will continue to grow and carriers are likely to take the majority of the blame. If you ask us, David Fincher has just found his ideal follow-up to The Social Network -- we'd especially love to see someone film the part where AT&T asks Steve Jobs to ditch the turtleneck and wear a suit when meeting with its board of directors.
*Verizon is currently in the process of acquiring AOL, Engadget's parent company. However, Engadget maintains full editorial control, and Verizon will have to pry it from our cold, dead hands.