Report: AT&T has iPhone exclusivity until 2012

A new Engadget report confirms a report from 2007 that indicates AT&T has exclusive rights to the iPhone for five years.

The two companies originally agreed upon a five-year exclusivity contract that runs through the spring of 2012, with Apple able to choose a new provider once the contract runs out.  It’s possible AT&T and Apple re-negotiated the contract prior to the iPad’s release earlier this spring, but both companies remain silent.

Apple has confirmed it will not enter exclusive contracts in the United States, Germany and Spain again — but chief operating officer Tim Cook didn’t disclose when the contracts end.

A report in March said a Verizon iPhone is currently in development, with Verizon CEO Ivan Sidenberg saying the company still wants the device, but won’t try and interfere with the contract.

I won’t say AT&T knew its networks would falter under the added stress of millions of iPhone users, but the company made the right decision locking Apple into a five-year deal.  Some Verizon subscribers are chomping at the bit to own an iPhone, but aren’t willing to switch to AT&T – and its improving, yet lackluster 3G coverage – just for a phone.

Meanwhile, Apple and AT&T will move forward with a new iPhone launch planned event June 22 at the San Francisco Yerba Buena Center.  Exact details remain unknown, but Apple continues to promote its iPhone OS version 4, which includes multitasking and other sought after features.