AT&T losing (or giving up) its iPhone exclusivity?

The newest rumors in the mysterious Apple announcement on January 27th apparently come from an AT&T insider who claims that on the 27th Apple will announce that other carriers will soon have the iPhone available on their networks.  While Verizon is one of the more likely candidates, hardware issues make the current iPhones unusable on their network.  This would mean that Apple would also have to be releasing new hardware.  There has been some speculation that Apple may be releasing a new iPhone on the 27th – if so it certainly helps lend credibility to the idea that one of the most drooled after phones will soon be available on competing networks.

It certainly seems like there is a good chance of this happening.  While AT&T has moved a lot of iPhone’s, it has also burdened their service like no phone before it.  They’ve been getting a lot of negative press, so losing exclusivity could help relieve some of the burden and allow them to push more of other variety of phones that they see better financial returns from.  It would also be a boon to consumers who lust after the iPhone as it would give them choice, and competition, in theory, helps to lower price and give new incentives to the consumers.  Verizon’s recent price cut on unlimited plans was followed by a nearly identical price drop by AT&T.

The iPhone’s on another network rumor sound more plausible to me than a tablet announcement after so many disappointments in the past.  Still, no one said the event on the 27th has to be limited to one device.  Apple is the master of “Just one more thing…”.  Perhaps a networked tablet from Apple riding on Verizon’s airwaves?  We’ll just have to wait until the 27th to see.