Steve Jobs considered breaking AT&T exclusivity "more than half a dozen times"

Steve Jobs considered breaking AT&T exclusivity
One of the biggest points of frustration for potential early iPhone adopters was the exclusivity with AT&T, because not everyone wanted to or could switch to AT&T. It was also a cause for annoyance with those who did get an iPhone on AT&T, because of constantly dropped calls, and troubles with data connections. Now it has come out that the ever fastidious Steve Jobs hated that exclusivity deal.

We've talked before about some of the more juicy items revealed in the new book Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution, which covers the early development of the iPhone and Android and the troubles between the two. Last time, we found out that Steve Jobs apparently called Android founder Andy Rubin a "big, arrogant f**k". Now, we're finding out that Jobs hated the AT&T exclusivity deal so much that he considered breaking the deal "more than half a dozen times".

Unfortunately, because of that same exclusivity deal, Jobs had no real power to get the changes he wanted. According to Dogfight author Fred Vogelstein, Jobs had tried pressuring AT&T to move faster with its data network upgrades since the iPhone launched in 2007, but the exclusivity deal took away all of his leverage, and nothing was able to be done until the iPhone finally became available on Verizon in 2011. Of course, even if Jobs had been able to break the exclusivity agreement, there were also concerns as to if Verizon would have been any better, because at the time, it was believed that its CDMA network caused issues with battery life, was slower than AT&T's data network, and may not have been any better at handling large amounts of data. 

source: Reuters via BGR



1. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

"there were also concerns as to if Verizon would have been any better, because its CDMA network cause issues with battery life" a statement that is completely unfounded and has no basis in fact. CDMA does not have any significant detriment to battery life in comparison to GSM. This has been tested over and over. Anyone that concludes there is a significant difference is biased and lying. As far as not liking the exclusivity deal, Im sure it was more of a "Buyer's remorse" situation, they probably saw no issue with it initially, but AT&T probably did not comply with Apple's demands very well and the agreement was in their favor and they abuserd

3. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

I've clarified the language on that part. Only meant to say that was the belief at the time, regardless of what turned out to be true.

13. ardent1

Posts: 2000; Member since: Apr 16, 2011

Michael: Apple went with GSM technology because more of the world used that technology than CDMA. If you recall, Apple at the time wanted to dominate the smartphone industry.

15. sprockkets

Posts: 1612; Member since: Jan 16, 2012

apple went to verizon first you know, cause, like apple, love to screw their customers with BS lock-in.

16. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

Yea but even if GSM is more dominant worldwide, Apple was thinking Verizon first as far as US marketshare goes. They naturally would have went with a GSM iphone for most other markets.

2. Kishin

Posts: 706; Member since: May 30, 2013

Nokia stop the exclusive act with ATT please

4. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

They dont have an exclusivity deal. Nokia has phones on Verizon and T-mobile as well. AT&T may have been more accommidating to them, or maybe Nokia has just been favoring AT&T since their network is more compatible with international networks than the other carriers. Nokia and Sprint does have some kind of beef though. I wish it could be worked out, because the Windows phones on Sprint just suck, HTC and Samsung don't really care about WP.

5. Kishin

Posts: 706; Member since: May 30, 2013

All the good ones are on ATT, and if Nokia tried harder they can make phones that work the on 4 major carries. Just like the iphone did..

6. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Ahem. 920, 1020, 1520.

10. Kishin

Posts: 706; Member since: May 30, 2013

Yes those exactly Wondering how the 925 made it to ATT?? yes thats my point

7. gjkiii

Posts: 38; Member since: Oct 25, 2013

I knew it was a bad idea from Day 1 but to this day I do not understand why he did it. Why didn't he just put it on more than one carrier at the beginning?

8. Gawain

Posts: 441; Member since: Apr 15, 2010

It is well documented now that Verizon turned down Apple's offers. Love it or hate it, Apple is a very difficult company to do business with. They charge an arm and leg wholesale to carriers, and they get royalties for every device sold and in use...and people used to think BlackBerry/RIM was bad with its carrier fees for BIS, those didn't hold a candle next to the $15/$20 per month, per user Apple gets.


Posts: 109; Member since: Mar 18, 2012

Marketing! It created a LOT of interest in a product that was not available to anyone but AT&T customers on susbsidy, here in the states. Look what it did for Apple. It did a lot of good for them but all-the-while you have Android climbing the ranks. Apple is slowing it's roll.

14. ardent1

Posts: 2000; Member since: Apr 16, 2011

The original deal was with Cingular. To get that deal, Apple threaten to become a MVNO, which is how Cingular caved in and gave Apple a sweetheart deal. At that time, the carriers had do much control over the handset such as how the menu was set up, the placement of the carrier logo, revenue sharing of music, games, etc. Because the iPhone was so successful in terms of ARPU, net subscriber adds, low churn, etc, it gave Apple the leverage to negotiate with the other carriers. Verizon kicked themselves for not doing a deal with Apple and instead tried to rely on Blackberry (anyone remember the BB Storm aka iPhone killer?). At the time no carrier (in the US) understood that the iPhone was a game changer. Cingular took a huge gamble with the iPhone and the rest is history.

9. rusticguy

Posts: 2828; Member since: Aug 11, 2012

Expected. He was one of those "Use and Trow" types by nature.

12. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

Ironic that Jobs calls somebody else "arrogant".

17. squallz506

Posts: 1075; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

This article seems about 2 years late.

18. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Its funny now that he's gone.....we find out he wasnt all in on the exclusivity deal. That I find hard to believe since Apple makes all their OS's exclusive. Exclusive hardware....

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