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How the iPhone changed AT&T forever

When Apple introduced the iPhone, it changed the mobile landscape in a big way, but while many customers may claim that the phone changed their lives, it did the same for carrier AT&T. As Forbes reports, the once AT&T-exclusive Apple smartphone completely changed the company and forced it to adapt to a booming market that it wasn't prepared for.

"It changed our capital allocation. It changed how we thought about spectrum. It changed how we thought about engineering and designing networks," AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson told Forbes, "Suddenly you go from thinking that 40,000 cell sites are sufficient to thinking it's going to have to be multiples of that."

Currently, roughly two-thirds of AT&T's contracted customers own smartphones. Of that number, nearly 50 percent own iPhones. By comparison, around half of Verizon's active contracts include smartphones, and just 20 percent of those customers have Apple hardware in their pockets. These figures are pretty good evidence that the years of iPhone exclusivity have been good to AT&T. And while the smartphone surge has, at times, had negative effects on its service, customers appear to be sticking around... at least for now.