Apple's iPhone Likely Staying Put with AT&T through 2012

Sorry folks, but for those of you who found yourselves getting excited at the prospect of owning an iPhone on Verizon's network, we have to burst your bubble. The outlook doesn't look good, no matter what rumors you might have read (and there have been plenty of them) -- the truth is, AT&T and Apple are locked into a contract until 2012, no matter how much everyone wishes it wasn't true.

News that Apple and AT&T had entered into a 5-year exclusivity contract first broke in 2007 not long before the original iPhone was released. But up until now, no one has been able to verify the report, which led many to question if a 5-year deal really existed. As it turns out, it does. The digital detectives at Engadget began digging through documents and what they found was a class-action lawsuit filed in 2008 alleging a monopoly. Here was Apple's response to the lawsuit:

"There was widespread disclosure of (AT&T's) five-year exclusivity and no suggestion by Apple or anyone else that iPhones would become unlocked after two years."

Game over, right? Quite frankly, yes, this probably does mean the iPhone's fate is sealed with AT&T until 2012, and any rumors suggesting otherwise are wishful thinking at best. But there does remain a glimmer hope for fans of Verizon's network. As Engadget points out, "contracts can be canceled, amended, and breached i many ways," and given AT&T's network woes, it's easy to see why Apple might want to explore jumping ship. Plus, the Verizon rumors just keep coming. The question is, do they hold any merit?