• Wall Street: AT&T to Keep iPhone/iPad Exclusivity

    AT&T has long been the cause of complaints, fairly or unfairly, about the performance of its network. The rumors that Apple would be adding a second carrier this year were met with some excitement, even to the point that a Verizon announcement was expected at the iPad unveiling last month. When such an announcement didn't come - and, in fact, Apple announced a deal with AT&T to provide WiFi and 3G services to the iPad - those rumors took a serious hit. Now, a financial analysts are saying they expect Apple to not only stay with AT&T, but that the exclusive deal might even be extended at least a year.

    Vijay Jayant, an analyst with Barclays Capital issued a report on AT&T today which was covered by AppleInsider. He wrote that the financial markets are feeling bullish on AT&T after the iPad announcement, writing that the "launch of Apple's iPad on AT&T's network is a vote of confidence in AT&T's network by the equipment maker." He said that Apple's choice of AT&T to carry its "second major communications product reflects Apple's bias for the global GSM platform."

    Similarly, an analyst told Andy Patrizio of Internet News that Apple was unlikely to roll out a separate iPhone or iPad model for Verizon's CDMA network. Instead, according to this analyst, Apple would continue to focus instead on the GSM-based UMTS 3G system currently in use on the iPhone and iPad until AT&T and Verizon both roll out 4G/LTE technology, which should happen over the next three years or so.

    And Pacific Crest analyst Steve Clement is saying that the iPad deal is a sign "the tone from Apple is improving," with Steve Jobs and other top Apple execs publicly supporting AT&T. Clement says that most people on Wall Street are banking on AT&T keeping iPhone and iPad exclusivity at least for the rest of this year. He also noted that AT&T's plan to spend more money on its network in 2010 is an indication that the carrier is expecting to keep exclusivity and wants to build the capacity to support it.

    Credit Suisse, furthermore, predicted last week that there is a 75 percent chance AT&T will remain the exclusive carrier of the iPhone in the US. in 2010, though the iPhone would inevitably be available on multiple carriers.

    Unlike tech writers, financial analysts are paid large sums of money by people with even larger sums of money to get this stuff right. Obviously, nobody but Apple and AT&T execs really know what the future will hold, but the fact that the Wall Street types are saying pretty much the same thing at this point is a strong sign that AT&T is going to hang on to exclusivity for at least a bit longer.
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