Is AT&T’s iPhone Exclusivity Now Ending In 2011?

iPhone Anger

At last week’s iPad event, you could hear the audience let out a collective sigh after Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) confirmed the 3G version of the tablet would be running on AT&T’s network.

Now, it is starting to appear that AT&T (NYSE: T) will keep its hold on the iPhone for the next 12 to 18 months, rather than it ending in mid-2010 — as previously assumed, GigaOm reports. The new timeline was outlined in a note issued by Jonathan Chaplin, an analyst with Credit Suisse. He writes: “We believe there is a 75 percent probability that AT&T keeps exclusivity in 2010.”

Chaplin said he arrived at this conclusion based on two things: There’s no compelling evidence that it does end in 2010, and if it did, AT&T can continue to pay generous incentives to maintain the exclusivity.

While those don’t reasons don’t offer hard evidence either, Chaplin also surmises that if AT&T is granted the additional exclusivity period, it will have enough time to solve its network problems, so that when it does expire, there won’t be a mass exodus of consumers.

But there’s other reasons why their won’t be a mass exodus. Future carriers that will offer the phone may charge higher data rates, and consumers won’t necessarily be able to take their iPhone from one network to another. For example, if you look at the UK, where nearly all of the carriers are now selling the iPhone, not a lot has changed since O2

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