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Apple iPhone to be Cingular-exclusive at launch

By Ryan Katz, Senior Editor

September 26, 2006 – Apple and Cingular have signed an agreement that will make the US’ largest cell phone provider the exclusive carrier of Apple’s forthcoming phone, sources report. Apple’s iPhone remains on track for an early 2007 release.

As previously reported, Apple’s phone will feature a candy-bar design with a 2.2-inch display and 3 megapixel camera. Robust iTunes and iSync support will also be delivered with the phone.

Apple’s exclusive contract with Cingular is said to be good for the first six months, sources report, meaning other providers will be able to sell the phone in the second-half of 2007. Cingular had an exclusive on the Motorola ROKR—the first phone to feature iTunes—when it launched last year.

Sources say Apple is in talks with providers in other parts of the world on exclusive deals, but are short on specifics. O2 had the exclusive on the ROKR in Europe, however, suggesting that provider may again be tapped to launch Apple’s phone.

Meanwhile, insiders say Apple is internally estimating that shipments of the iPhone will top a staggering 25 million in 2007 alone. Motorola’s RAZR, by contrast, has sold more than 50 million units since its launch in late 2004. Apple is betting a phone with Apple’s iconic design, elegant interface, and iPod-matching functionality will be a strong draw for users who currently carry both devices on them.

Apple iPhone to be Cingular-exclusive at launch

This is important because a. everybody thought Apple would launch its own service, leasing spectrum from Sprint b. the unit projections.  Obviously Cingular wants a selling advantage and will hype the hell out of this during their exclusive window.  Will anybody say "Zune"?  And will this hasten the end of overpriced wireless downloads?

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