I was always baffled by Apple exclusively giving the iPhone to AT&T. It’s not in Apple’s DNA to tie the customer experience of their products to someone else. Exclusively or otherwise. Multi-year or otherwise. Apple’s built their reputation on owning and controlling the entire stack; OS, applications, hardware. Hell, Apple’s never been crazy about having a development community either.
With the FCC’s move to open up the unused television spectrum for unlicensed use (think WiFi on a nationwide scale), the Apple + AT&T partnership feels more like a hedge on Apple’s part. A way to get the product out ahead of the curve.
In a couple years, the technology to use this new spectrum will be on the market and stable.
By that time, Apple’s agreement with AT&T will be expiring. Think Apple will be selling the iPhone with any carrier when nationwide spectrum is available ‘for free’?
Think they’re be any difference between the iPhone and the iPod Touch at that point?
Also, I see this as another point confirming my prediction that the move to digital broadcast in Feb 09 will wipe out the broadcast television viewing audience.
This is as historic a moment for our country as electing the first African-American POTUS.
Not because of how it impacts something as luxurious as Apple products, but because it wipes out the need for telco carriers, opens up the municipal broadband market, and with a ‘flip of a switch’ internet-ifies rural America.