AT&T contracted as exclusive iPhone provider through 2012

Despite rumors to the contrary, court documents show that AT&T's position as the sole iPhone carrier in the US was initially contracted to last through 2012.

One of the more prevalent iPhone rumors over the past 2 or so years has centered on when Apple will release a CDMA equipped version of the iPhone capable of running on Verizon. Not only are some people fed up with connectivity problems with AT&T, but there are undoubtedly a good number of people out there who can't switch over to AT&T due to coverage issues and contractual obligations.

The iPhone has done gangbusters in the US thus far, and both Apple and AT&T have reaped the financial rewards. But with the iPhone out for nearly 3 years now, some people are naturally waiting to pull the trigger until the device hits the carrier of their choice.

Most recently, it was rumored that Apple would announce a Verizon capable iPhone at the special iPad event held earlier this January. Obviously, that didn't pan out. Soon afterwards, rumblings began to emerge suggesting that Steve Jobs would announce the end of AT&T's exclusive right to sell the iPhone later this summer at Apple's WWDC event. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be in the stars.

Engadget recently uncovered legal documents from a court case from 2008 which all but confirms that initial reports of a 5-year exclusivity agreement between Apple and AT&T were spot-on.

The pertinent portion of the court document reads:

The Agreement, which lasts until 2012, provides that iPhone purchasers who want voice and data services must sign a two-year service contract with ATTM. (Complaint P30.) Although the Agreement itself is not public, some of its provisions have been revealed in the press.

Read it and week Verizon fans. 2012. Two more years to go. Now if you're one of those folks who likes to view the glass as half full, you might take solace in the fact that contracts are always open for restructuring and re-negotiation. There might be a slim chance that Apple and AT&T's initial contract has since been amended. Indeed, some speculate that AT&T was able to secure a spot as the exclusive 3G provider for the iPad due to certain concessions it made regarding its sole right to sell the iPhone in the United States.

The bottom line, though, is that we simply aren't privy to those potentially juicy details. So unless proven otherwise, and unless Steve Jobs shocks the world this June, it appears that the next-iPhone, like its predecessors, will remain an AT&T exclusive.

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