iPhone & AT&T : Branding

Apple's brand franchise is extensive, but most recently we have seen wave after wave of "i-Things" (iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iTouch, iPad). When Apple developed the iPhone, it did so in conjunction with AT&T. Many think that inhibited the brand's growth, since AT&T had suffered from service issues. In fact, the introduction of the iPhone swamped AT&T and it struggled even harder to provide quality service, with little success. In some markets, the ratio of iPhones to AT&T's bandwidth means that service has been spotty and unreliable, with a dropped call rate of about 30%.
While strategic partnerships are common in today's business environment, choosing the right partner is critical. What impact do you think Apple's choice to introduce the iPhone in the US exclusively through AT&T had on its brand? What might Apple have done differently?

Please provides 2-3 paragraphs, references and citation.

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