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.

  • Tom Ross

    Apple is getting closer to the meaning of "unrestricted". Both in France and in the UK they are now selling contract free and unlocked iPhones. This should mean ample supply for the grey market, at the least, and could even portend a global trend for all non-exclusive markets to see free iPhones that might add some 5 or 10 % in extra iPhone sales.

    The price is still a shocker though. You can now get an iPhone 16 GB for € 629/£499, or an iPad 3G 16 GB for € 599/£529. Just doesn't seem right.

  • The price diff does seem awkward, but I think there is some logic. Apple can get higher margins on the iPhone because the combination of a channel that subsidizes the product and the higher level of convenience it allows means that buyers are willing to pay a premium. This also implies to me that the iPhone is still distribution constrained and that demand will remain higher than distribution allows for a while. The iPhone margin is around 50% as a result.

    The iPad is like the iPod, a product that can get 30% margin.

  • I did a short analysis on iPhone ASP based on unlocked pricing in UK and France here:

    I conclude that the price has not really moved that much. The ASP is probably almost exactly the same as it was last quarter: $622.