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I bet Steve would want to for a long time. But it's an exclusive deal, so AT&T has the upper hand here, i think. If the rumours are true, AT&T has a 5-year-exclusive contract with Apple. That's still a lot time left. Ironically, this exclusiveness is some sort of lock in (from at&t's side) and here it's widely considered harmful :)

Meanwhile androids infiltrate all other major networks..

If things get bad enough, can't Apple buy out the rest of the contract ahead of time?

They can ignore it and pay damages if there is no cancellation clause. It is highly unlikely a court would enjoin them from doing some as pro consumer as opening their platform to another US provider.

It doesn't make sense to work out such a contract without a cancellation clause. They could as well just make a verbal promise without signing something. Penalties are usually very, very high if one side doesn't fulfill its part of the contract. By high i mean high enough so that Steve still sticks to AT&T ;)

You have a lot of faith in the pro-consumer stance of courts.

Nobody knows. I imagine that both Apple and AT&T have enough money to afford lawyers who make such contracts really painful when another party wants to dropout. This is usually the case for most such contracts. My guess is, that Steve is currently balancing the benefits and tradeoffs of dropping out of the contract. Will Apple have to pay too much? Or will Apple lose too much to Android while staying with AT&T?

> If things get bad enough, can't Apple buy out the rest of the contract ahead of time?

The cost of doing that depends on the contract.

How much do you think that Apple should pay to do this? How much do you think that they're willing to pay? (My guess is that Apple isn't willing to pay more than they'd make by doing so.)

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