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Tim Cook on iPhone Distribution: eight new carriers, three remain exclusive, total of 151

You can look at the number of carriers we added which was eight as I had mentioned, and out of the 151 carriers at the country level it is a good number but not a significant number. Obviously the existing carriers performed very well in addition to the adds.

… There are three main countries where iPhones have a contractual exclusive relationship. That is the United States, Germany and Spain. There are a few smaller countries where we have an exclusive or co-exclusive but those three are the ones that are the major markets. Over the past year we have moved a number of markets from exclusive to non-exclusive. In each case as we have done that we have seen our unit growth accelerate and our market share improve. But that doesn’t mean we view that formula works in every single case. I would just sort of reiterate what I did last time that this is how we are learning so far. That is the result we have seen so far. We think very carefully about each of these at the country level to conclude what is in our best interest.

via Apple Inc. F2Q10 (Qtr end 03/27/10) Earnings Call Transcript — Seeking Alpha.

  • Azuma

    Tim Cook's reference to just three exclusive deals is slightly puzzling. Isn't Japan a "main country"? Softbank had the foresight to become the exclusive Japanese carrier for iPhone and now DoCoMo and KDDI are scrambling to stem the tide of customer defections.

    • http://asymco.wordpress.com asymco

      Azuma,

      This is indeed puzzling. China is also a single-opearator country and can be considered anything buy minor. Perhaps what Cook was suggesting was a contractual exclusivity rather than a "de facto" exclusivity. Meaning that in the three exclusive countries, the operators are granted the exclusivity while in other "single-operator" countries the exclusivity is due to technology constraints. The iPhone as currently shipping is a single configuration that supports one GSM 3G standard. DoCoMo and China Mobile do not support this standard and therefore cannot range the device. It is up to Apple to decide whether they want to implement versions of their devices that support these other standards and therefore allow

      Of course, in the US, there is both "de facto" exclusivity and "contractual" exclusivity. Since no carrier besides AT&T supports the exact frequencies and protocols that iPhone 3G supports and since AT&T is given an explicit exclusivity, it is rather unique.

      Correct me if I'm wrong on Softbank vs. the other carriers in Japan.

  • Azuma

    I think your implication that there is no contractual exclusivity for Softbank is the most likely explanation for the omission of Japan. The absence of an immediate competitor to Softbank (under current 3G technology) must greatly limit Apple's leverage in contract negotiations.

  • Sweeps

    Asymco, first I want to thank you for your efforts. It's really a great service. Does anyone know if there is a chronological list of when the iPhone was released in each country, with the details of exclusivity or not? I think this would be helpful to get a gauge of how the iPhone will continue to grow in each market, and also give us an insight as to how the iPad may perform, as well. I intend to be a little more diligent with the iPad release.

    • http://asymco.wordpress.com asymco

      Sweeps,

      You're welcome. The best history of the iPhone is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_iPhon

    • Tom Ross

      Apple also offers a list of all iPhone carriers with some details like carrier lock (which I personally find the most offensive aspect of the iPhone).

      http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1937

      • http://www.asymco.com asymco

        Excellent resource. Seems that there are more than a handful of countries where unlocked phones are available.

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