iPhone Love Affair Won't Last Forever Says AT&T CEO

AT&T's Randall Stephenson said at Fortune's Brainstorm conference that the exclusive partnership the operator currently has with Apple over the iPhone won't last forever.

Stephenson did not elaborate on these comments but the network which added a jaw-dropping 1.4 million customers due mainly to the Apple exclusivity seems to be pondering life after the iPhone, like its European counterpart, O2.

While O2 has been beefing up its range by capturing a number of high profile phones like the Palm Pre, the TG01 and the Samsung i7500, AT&T's range is not as strong as some of its competitors like Verizon.

AT&T's exclusivity agreement is coming to an end in 2010 after which Apple will allow other networks to sell the iPhone.

More than two thirds of new AT&T subscribers signed up to buy the 3G or the 3GS, which means that losing the exclusivity could be disastrous for the mobile operator.

To some extent, one may say that AT&T has been addicted to Apple's high propensity to rob customers from rival networks.

Verizon still leads AT&T in the United States with 87.7 million customers, roughly 8 million more than its archrival.

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Research analyst Comscore also reveals that AT&T had attracted more smartphone users - which generate significantly higher revenues than traditional users - compared to others.

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