updated 03:20 pm EDT, Mon August 31, 2009
Piper on US iPhones
The iPhone could be sold through multiple American carriers as soon as next year, suggests Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster. The analyst notes that in France, where Orange was once the exclusive iPhone carrier, Apple now enjoys a "dramatically" higher marketshare as compared to countries where exclusives remain, namely the US. "We believe Apple is seeing the increased unit sell-through more than offset the slightly (~10 percent) deteriorated economics per unit involved in non-exclusive agreements," writes Munster in a new investor note.
All this may lend Apple strong incentive to adopt multiple American carriers in 2010, the first year the company will have an opportunity to act outside of its partnership with AT&T. Munster argues that a second carrier, such as Verizon, would likely be introduced alongside a new iPhone model next summer. Yet to be addressed is the issue of network compatibility, as Verizon uses a CDMA/EVDO network, and current iPhone models support only GSM, EDGE and HSPA.
Apple could switch to LTE (4G) technology, which both AT&T and Verizon plan to support. LTE networks are still under construction however, and so extra receivers would be needed to ensure backwards compatibility. Verizon is rumored to be accelerating 4G deployment with the iPhone in mind.