On Sept. 10, consultant iSuppli released a report that claims that, based on feverish and expensive improvements AT&T is making to its network, there’s reason to believe that Apple will renew its contract to deliver the iPhone to AT&T in the U.S. exclusively. iSuppli believes the current contract will expire in mid-2010.
However, iSuppli believes that Apple may start selling non-iPhone devices to other carriers, like Verizon Wireless. Verizon Wireless may, perhaps, get a much-rumored Apple tablet, according to iSuppli.
If that’s the case, here’s one tricky issue that Apple and AT&T will have to resolve: How do you define what is, and isn’t an iPhone? Distinctions between different types of mobile devices are becoming increasingly blurry. Many smartphones nowadays look like small tablets. Some netbooks can be called a Mobile Internet Device (MID).
It seems to me there’s potential for an Apple tablet — if it does come out — to compete with the iPhone head to head. After all, most tablets nowadays can also do calling. Would AT&T really allow and welcome such competition? Because it needs the iPhone to grow, the carrier may not have a choice.