AT&T has been the exclusive carrier of Apple’s hugely popular iPhone since its introduction in 2007.
Verizon, however, is the largest cell phone carrier in the nation and is rumored to be making deals with Apple to end AT&T’s exclusivity contract.
However, Verizon has done well despite the iPhone’s popularity on another network. With deeper and deeper deals being made with Google, which makes the Android operating system, and with several phones on the Verizon network sporting the OS, it’s still up in the air whether Verizon needs the iPhone as much as Apple needs Verizon.
Tensions have mounted for Apple as AT&T has continually faced data delivery and connection problems, especially in large cities where their network has often buckled under the heavy usage. Verizon has had few such problems, none of which have been as publicly embarrassing as AT&T’s, and some analysts think that the exclusivity contract Apple has with AT&T is only to AT&T’s benefit and much to the detriment of Apple’s name.
The latest offer from Verizon and Google’s alliance is the Droid X, which hit stores in early August. This Android-based phone is expected to be the first major rival to the iPhone since Blackberry began to lose market share.
Verizon has been growing its share of the smart phone market, despite the heavy publicity behind the ever-popular iPhone. Verizon, in fact, now holds about 26% of the smart phone market overall, up from last year’s 20% and taken almost directly from AT&T, whose share slipped down to less than half (45%) as of 2009.
Apple’s exclusive contract with AT&T expires in 2012, signed as a five-year agreement when the iPhone was still experimental. A storied history between Verizon and Google, however, hampered the two company’s efforts to collaborate until last year, when differences were apparently put aside in the interest of business and keeping Apple from owning the smart phone market.
That new alliance is now what threatens to make Apple (mostly thanks to AT&T, it appears) more and more a non-issue in the smart phone arena.