Analyst: AT&T to Share iPhone with Verizon in 2010

AT&T has been Apple's exclusive iPhone partner in the United States ever since the combination iPod and smartphone was introduced, but that will change in 2010. Broadpoint AmTech analyst Brian Marshall expects Apple will branch out and strike an iPhone deal with Verizon next year.

"While Apple started off with exclusive arrangements in 2007 with the original iPhone launch, the company has since migrated towards multiple carriers per region," Mr. Marshall said. "In our view, diverse carrier support is a key element to driving global penetration of the iPhone. Therefore, we believe the chances are high the iPhone will find its way onto the Verizon network in the second half of 2010."

Verizon has already expressed interest in carrying the iPhone on its cell network. "We obviously would be interested at any point in the future they thought it would make sense for them to have us as a partner. And so we will leave it with them on that score," said Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg during his company's quarterly earnings report earlier this week.

AT&T executives have acknowledged in the past that their exclusive deal with Apple would eventually end, too.

Mr. Marshall is maintaining his "Buy" rating and US$235 target price for Apple's stock. Apple is currently trading at $193.13, down 4.24 (2.15%).