Of the 4.3 million iPhone subscribers that AT&T added to its books in 2008, about 40 percent of them were new customers. It’s that type of growth that has AT&T scrambling to retain its exclusivity arrangement with Apple, which is expected to expire next year. If that agreement were to expire, Apple would be free to take the iPhone to other wireless carriers, like T-Mobile or Verizon Wireless (though Apple would have to develop a CDMA version of the phone first to bring it to VZW).
Yeah, apparently it’s all part of AT&T’s grand scheme to remain relevant. With POTS drying up—AT&T has 77 million wireless customers to 30 million landline customers—the company is trying to expand into new and exciting ventures. It’s hard to call the iPhone anything but a success for AT&T, but it needs to look beyond the phone that Jobs built in order to fend off the likes of Verizon Wireless, what with its FIOS Internet and TV service that every teenager in America wants (in order to leave uTorrent running 24/7).
A small suggestion: improve call quality in New York City. Not to keep harping on this, but the call quality of even the cheapest VZW phone is much better than the iPhone in New York, not even counting the dropped calls and severed Internet connection. See this comedian’s book for more on the subject of why the iPhone can be pretty annoying in New York.