In order for Apple to build the phone they REALLY wanted to build required (some) changes to the way providers ran their networks... Lets face it, going back to the year BEFORE the iPhone was introduced the concept of Apple dictating network changes to the carrier was all a preposterous notion at the very least.
So Apple did the next best thing and made a deal with a carrier 'product virtually unseen'. Now that I think about it I'm sure I read (somewhere) that a comment similar to that being said by the AT&T CEO.
I'm sure the contract was something to the effect that Apple would build a smartphone like no other and in return AT&T would make the necessary changes to its network to enable some of the phones unique features. In addition Apple would make AT&T its exclusive for X number of years. AT&T also must have had some kind of escape clause if the phone didn't deliver what Steve was promising.
So Apple gave into an exclusive agreement so it could have some say as to how the providers cell network operates. An alien concept to say the least. Previous to this it was the providers who told the cell phone makers what to include and what not to include.
So fast forward to today...
Apple is truly in the cat bird seat...
It's contract with AT&T is winding down and the rest of the US market is Apples to take if they so choose.
Imagine if tomorrow Apple went to Verizon and Sprint and offered them a non-exclusive deal on the iPhone what do you think will happen?
1 - They'd all but jump at it making whatever network changes they need to so the iPhone works as advertised.
2 - The drop most/all of the 'other' smartphone TV ads and flood primetime with ads boasting they too have the hottest phone the world has ever seen.
I mean really, do you think Verizon or Sprint would be featuring an Andriod phone as its #1 smartphone if they had the ability to offer its customers the iPhone instead?
Yea... Steve hit this one clear outta the park.
And despite how I feel about their tyrannical control over what Apps I can run on my iPhone and iPod touch I gotta give the man credit when credit is due.