Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The iPhone's AT&T Exclusivity: Will The Government Set It Free!

Senators John Kerry, Roger Wicker, Byron Dorgan and Amy Klobuchar have all expressed concerns to the acting chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Michael J. Copps, that could, if successful, spell some bad news for AT&T's iPhone exclusivity.

On the other hand, however, it could spell great news for AT&T's competitors such as Verizon, Sprint, etc., and, as well, what I believe could be even better news for Apple and for lovers of it's iPhone.

PCWorld recently reported and asked the question, " Will the Feds Force Apple To Break Up With AT&T?" Thats a good question, as they go on to further report that the senators main concerns were based on:

  • The increasing prevalance of exclusivity arrangements between cell phone manufacturers and carriers
  • How exclusivity agreements may be restricting consumer choice, particularly for consumers living in rural areas;
  • How exclusivity agreements may place limitations on a consumer's ability to take full advantage of handset technologies, such as the ability to send multimedia messages or the ability to "tether" a device to a computer for Internet use;
  • How exclusivity agreements may be inhibiting the ability of smaller, more regional carriers to compete;
  • How exclusivity agreements may play a role in encouraging or discouraging innovation within the handset marketplace.

I agree with some of these concerns and I believe that, if necessary, it would indeed be a good move to break up the current AT&T/ iPhone exclusivity for the simple reason that it clearly impedes consumers choice, and limits the potential market for the iPhone. Any gains that Apple may receive directly from it's AT&T exclusivity are far less then those that it would make from having a broader range of iPhone carriers. Limiting consumers choice is bad enough, but why should any exclusivity be allowed to limit the iPhone's market potential as well? After all, as many customers as AT&T may have, it's still only a fraction of the combined market share that Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, etc. share as a whole. I'm all for AT&T carrying the iPhone - I just don't like the idea of giving them any iPhone exclusively! It's not good for Apple, the iPhone, the other carriers, or consumers in general.

So will the Feds actually move to break up Apple's and AT&T iPhone exclusivity, among others such as with Sprint and the Pre? That I don't know, of course, but I sure do hope thats the case here. I believe such action would not only end up being a good thing for Apple and the iPhone, but, as well, it could be good for the other carriers involved (regardless of what AT&T might think otherwise) and lastly, and most importantly, I believe that it would be really good for consumers as a whole.

And that's my 2 cents 4 this Wednesday, June 17, 2009

AT&T/Apple copyright image via: PCWorld

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