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Day June 10, 2010

Prepare for unrestricted iPhone distribution

I’m picking up all kinds of signals that Apple is about to let loose with a storm of operator distribution deals.

It all started with Tim Cook’s comment in the last conference call:

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

Now we are hearing of unrestricted iPhone distribution in France and today the rumor of T-Mobile picking it up in the US (which I always thought was more logical than Verizon).  There are other hints from the Nordic countries

Three to Carry iPhone 4 in UK | News | The Mac Observer observes that there will be five (!) UK carriers selling it.

In addition to the super-steep ramp of 88 countries launching in 3 months.

It looks like Tim pulled all the stops.

The next 100 million iOS devices

As iOS crosses 100 million units sold 3 years after the platform launched, it’s time to look forward to the next 100 million. My expectation is that well over 100 million iOS devices will sell during 2011, but even during the next 12 months (2H ’10 and 1H ’11) the total may well reach 100 million, making 200 million installed by June 2011 very likely.

Here is where the numbers will come from:

iPhone: Assuming only 50% growth (half of the average growth seen so far) gives 50 million units in the next 12 months.

iPad: 15 million base assumption

iPod: This is the most difficult to predict, but 46 million iPods will sell with a growth rate of -8% to -9%. If we consider the iPod touch part of the mix to be 40%, we get 19 million.

The total with these assumptions would be 84 million. A slightly higher growth rate for the iPhone would easily push the total to 100 million.

200 million devices in four years is quite a feat. Compare it to the growth of television which reached 50 million Americans in the first decade after commercial launch. Or consider the Netscape browser which only reached 50 million in its first four years or AOL which just crossed 20 million or in Japan where i-Mode reached 40 million users in the same time frame.

At 200 million, the iOS platform will be 18% the size of the world-wide television audience.