Last summer, my PFF colleague Barbara Esbin and I explained that, while many consumers dislike not being able to get popular smartphones like the iPhone on the wireless network of their choice, such exclusive deals actually benefit consumers. Barbara summarizes her testimony (PDF) as follows:
the dynamic created by the exclusive arrangement between Apple and AT&T that produced the iPhone allowed the two companies to bridge the gap between the technologies of today and the disruptive innovations of tomorrow. Moreover, it is undeniable that the breakthrough success of the iPhone has spurred a wave of competitors. If every wireless carrier had been able to sell the iPhone when it was initially released, I noted, it seems unlikely there would have been as much carrier support for developing competing products like the Google G1, RIM Blackberry Storm, Samsung Instinct or Palm Pre.