updated 11:25 am EST, Mon February 23, 2009
Kaufman on iPhone rates
Competitive pressure from rival carriers may force AT&T to create more affordable iPhone plans, suggests Kaufman analyst Shaw Wu. While an iPhone plan typically costs a minimum of $70 a month, Wu notes that it can cost as much as $130 to gain both unlimited voice and data. These plans are now woefully out of date next to options from Sprint and T-Mobile, says Wu, and may be the cause of slowing iPhone sales, given a terrible economy.
T-Mobile is said to be testing a $50 unlimited voice plan, paired with a $25 unlimited data option; Sprint's Boost Mobile division is meanwhile offering a combined plan costing only $50. AT&T would likely gain increased iPhone adoption if it lowered costs, Wu argues, in the same way that broadband is said to have exploded when plans as cheap as $15 to $20 became available.
Apple and AT&T are in fact said to be considering tiered iPhone models and plans, according to sources, though the details remain in flux. Kaufman is meanwhile predicting iPhone sales of approximately 3 million for the March quarter, though general expectations are between that and 3.5 million. Wu comments that the mid- to upper range of this is supported by current sales figures, but expectations should be tempered by economic worries.