Originally Posted by solipsism
I don't think 5 years is a long time.
Considering iPhone sales lost by not being multi-carrier, 5 years is an eternity.
I think it's a perfect amount of time for the iPhone platform to mature and for Apple to get a handle on the cell market.
Apple's been getting a handle on the cell market since '05 and the ROKR. They'll be hitting Europe in a few months, and Asia next year. If they don't have a good handle by then, they're going to be in for a bit of a rough ride.
They can also bank on the monthly revenue generated by AT&T's payments for "the privilege of being the sole US iPhone carrier." Without this the iPhone may cost several hundred dollars more than it does now.
Apple would likely seek a cut of the monthlies from any carrier they do business with. The whole point of the ATT deal is to give them a cudgel (ATT's short-term success at the cost of its competitors) with which to force such a concession.
And there's really no way the iPhone can cost 'several hundred dollars' more. If Apple charged $1000-1500 for it, it would flop. Only the diehards would buy it then.
If Apple came out with two unlocked phones--one for GSM and CDMA--or one WorldMode phone they immediately up their production and R&D costs for now having to deal with both radios.
First off, I don't think Apple is going to go the unlocked route, unless of course it was mandated by the government.
Second off, making two versions isn't terribly tough. Many companies already do this... the RAZR is one example. It's not like Apple has to re-invent the wheel- the chipsets needed are widely available, the issues are well-known.
They also lose any monthly revenue from a lack of contracts and are unable to forward the cellphone market by adding features like Visual Voicemail, though this is really just a benefit to the consumer.
If they are forced to go unlocked, perhaps, because that removes their leveage. But what if the govt doesn't step in, and Apple simply offers the same deal to other carriers that they offered to ATT?
Given the huge initial success of the iPhone, plus a feeling that 'this is where the future is headed', plus the iPhone's ability to drive data plan adoption, carriers that were previously intransigent (hi Verizon) may be reconsidering, even if it means giving a cut of the monthlies to Apple.
And I know Sprint is getting pretty desperate right now.
Also, if Apple released an unlocked phone then carriers like Verizon (assuming it was CDMA) may decide to cripple many features of the phone like they do with so many others. This is not for the consumer.
Again, who knows if Apple is going to be forced to go unlocked. Also, Verizon has released phones on its network that were NOT crippled, such as the Nokia 6256i (a phone I own).
An unlocked iPhone turns a device that is made to change the cell industry from the network to the hardware and the software into a device that becomes a short-lived "Ooh!" factor in HW and SW but quickly fades away as cool, but highly flawed device like the Newton.
Again, it really comes down to unlocked vs 'multicarrier via the same deal that was offered to ATT'. I really can't tell you what the Feds are going to do on that one, though from what they're intending to do with the soon-to-be auctioned 700 MHz band (analog TV spectrum that is being freed up as TV goes digital), it seems that they're hot to promote 'device openess'.
Which, yeah, would seem to be setting a precedent that could expand later.