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If AT&T loses iPhone exclusivity, Apple will gain

Mel Martin

Is AT&T holding back the iPhone's sales potential? That's the conclusion of analysts at Piper Jaffray. In a report issued today, the firm says Apple is likely to go with multiple carriers, as the company is already doing in other world markets like France and the U.K.

To make the point, the report cites iPhone sales in France, where Apple's share of the smartphone market zoomed to 40% from 15% since Orange lost the exclusive there.

What does that mean for AT&T? If Apple finds additional partners, AT&T could lose a hefty chunk of customers who haven't been too thrilled with the way the communications giant has performed with the iPhone. There is still no tethering, MMS took a long time to roll out, and there is a continuing complaint of dropped calls from every corner of the country.

One wonders what is going on inside Verizon. The best-regarded US cell carrier for coverage & network quality is the subject of many rumors about the iPhone being offered, and others rumors of the mythical Apple tablet coming to Verizon. It's all especially interesting as Verizon has been bashing the iPhone in a series of TV ads hyping the upcoming Droid from Motorola and Google. Doesn't seem like Verizon is warming up the relationship.

It will be an interesting next few months as competition increases; partners may or may nor change, and Apple will be looking to increase market share for one of the hottest phones on the market.

[via Business Week]

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