Analyst: Verizon Wants Pseudo-Exclusive on iPhone
Here’s some news for the Verizon iPhone rumor mill. Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu says Verizon, which is expected to add the iPhone to its smartphone lineup early next year, doesn’t want to see it added to Sprint and T-Mobile’s lineups as well, and is willing to pay to ensure that doesn’t happen.
“We are hearing that Verizon…may be willing to pay for exclusivity to itself and AT&T. For these reasons, Verizon could be more willing to give in to Apple’s terms,” Wu said in a note to clients this morning, adding that the iPhone’s continued success has undoubtedly given Apple the upper hand in its negotiations with the carrier. “Apple is back in the driver’s seat with a record 14.1 million iPhone shipments in the September quarter helping AT&T gain share against Verizon over the last two quarters as Android starts to lose some of its luster (at least at Verizon). In addition, our sources indicate that Verizon does not believe the pending launch of BlackBerry 6 on its network is likely to have a material impact.”
An interesting bit of speculation. If Apple were to win concessions from Verizon and AT&T to keep the iPhone exclusive to those carriers, it might be able to drastically expand the device’s distribution in the States and keep its margins in line at the same time. As Wu writes, “This is important as many, including ourselves, have been concerned that Verzion iPhone economics could be less favorable given the strength of Android and higher cost of components, particularly those associated with CDMA.”
That said, with Google’s Android OS gaining market share so quickly it might be a better move strategically to sacrifice a bit of margin to bring the iPhone to more carriers and temper its rival’s growth.