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AT&T’s exclusive deal with Apple set to expire

by Kelly MacNeil on January 11, 2011

For more than three years, Verizon customers faced a tough choice when it came to smartphones. Either switch to AT&T for service, or miss out on the iPhone. However, as the exclusivity deal between Apple and AT&T is set to expire, many consumers are hopeful that the popular device will become available to a wider audience, MSNBC.com reports.

Though the end of the exclusivity deal is good news for Apple, which can now sell its products to a wider swath of consumers, and Verizon, which is consistently outdone by its largest competitor, it is likely bad news for AT&T. Though many people expected the mobile service giant to lose the iPhone eventually, it will still take a hit. Some analysts believe that the company will lose a considerable amount of subscribers to Verizon, a company that is known for having better coverage.

As of Tuesday morning, both Verizon and Apple had yet to comment on whether or not there would be an iPhone available for the company, but with a press conference slated for mid-day Tuesday, all signs seem to indicate that will be the announcement.

"This is huge, actually," Early Show co-anchor Erica Hill said in an interview on Tuesday. "Not just for the smartphone industry as a whole, but because it really opens up the choices that you have."

Though AT&T has had an exclusive deal with Apple since the iPhone was first launched, the agreement did not come cheap. Additionally, the deal caused a rise in prices for the device in the United States, and experts expect the price to drop by at least $40 in the coming year.

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