We still don't know when AT&T's exclusive contract with Apple will expire, but that doesn't stop the continued rumors of the iPhone expanding to new carriers in the United States.
Usually it's Verizon Wireless that we hear is close to signing up to service the iPhone, but a report in Cult of Mac on Wednesday says it's actually T-Mobile that "is very close to getting the iPhone in the fall."
The report quotes an anonymous "highly placed" source at T-Mobile, who says the negotiations between Apple and the carrier are in an "advanced stage" and that it's "80 percent likely" the phone will arrive on T-Mobile's network in the third quarter.
It's unclear from where the 80 percent figure is derived. We do know that at one point, Apple and AT&T had a five-year exclusive service agreement. USA Today originally reported the contract length in 2007, which would keep the iPhone away from other U.S. carriers until 2012 at the earliest. Whether that has changed is not clear, but "this fall" or "third quarter" seems a little early. AT&T did, however, suddenly allow current customers whose contracts expire anytime this year to get an early upgrade for the iPhone 4, which could be a sign that AT&T is anticipating the end of its exclusive contract.
It's pretty clear that Apple is interested in expanding its device to other carriers--it's already done so in several countries and has seen an uptick in new subscribers, according to Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook. If Apple were to pursue that strategy in the States, T-Mobile is a much more natural fit for the iPhone than Verizon, when put in proper perspective. … Read more