Apple ending AT&T exclusivity deal? iPhone 4G/HD on Verizon?

Rumors of Verizon iPhone 4G deals are alive all over the internet, including speculation on the actual terms of Apple’s deal with AT&T.

The Apple / AT&T partnership has been exclusive since the iPhone’s US launch. Often to the chagrin of iPhone users, who frequently bemoan AT&T’s quality of service and packages. Each time Steve Jobs has got up on stage to announce some iPhone news people have been busy speculating that part of the announcement would be a split with AT&T. Or at least the introduction of another mobile network provider into the mix. To date each of those rumors has not panned out, and confirmation that AT&T would be Apple’s ongoing partner has been met with moans and groans from Steve’s normally friendly and receptive audience.

With all that history it’s easy to feel a little jaded about the whole thing, and just assume that nothing will ever change. But here we are again, chasing our tails.

CrunchGear are reporting on a rumor that a firm called Landor Associates are working on a campaign for Verizon and the as yet unannounced iPhone 4G. Apparently Landor has been working with Verizon on branding since 2007 (for various products). And according to a “tipster” they are now hard at work preparing for the “iPhone HD launch”.

Only yesterday various industry pundits were ripping apart documents in the public domain to try and figure out if AT&T’s 5 year deal with Apple was really waterproof up to 2012. Most came to the gloomy conclusion that on the face of it it was. But also noted that since the iPhone was introduced there had been several lawsuits (which are yet to conclude) which could have a bearing on that contract’s legality.

Some others pointed out that although the original contract was for 5 years. Giving AT&T the exclusive rights to be the service provider for the iPhone in the US until 2012. Apple and AT&T have been back to the negotiating table several times since the deal’s original inception, and contracts can be re-negotiated of course.

Apple have been publicly unhappy with AT&T’s service on more than one occasion. So it is possible they have been looking at other options for some time.

Recently AT&T seemed to be offering some rather sweet packages for iPad and mobile internet. You could read this one of two ways. All is well with AT&T and Apple, or AT&T are scrambling to keep customers and Apple happy, sensing a possible change afoot – or, heaven forbid, competition!

So there we have it! Most likely we won’t know anything for sure until at least June the 7th when Apple discuss more details of iPhone OS 4.0, and perhaps the new iPhone 4G / HD itself, at its World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC).

Do you think that this time Apple will surprise us? Will it be a good surprise, or a bad surprise? i.e AT&T only, or more carrier freedom for users? Let us know in the comments.

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