Ina Fried

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U.S. Cellular Gives In to iPhone Pressure, Says It Will Start Selling Apple Devices

When smaller U.S. carriers started selling the iPhone a couple years back, one carrier was a noticeable holdout.

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U.S. Cellular maintained at the time that the numbers just didn’t add up. On Friday, though, the company announced that it plans to start selling Apple products later this year.

“We have a number of strategies in progress to increase loyalty and attract more customers, including our announcement today that we will begin offering Apple products later this year,” the company said in a statement accompanying its first-quarter earnings. “By further strengthening our device portfolio, we’ll give consumers another great reason to switch to U.S. Cellular, and enable our existing customers to choose from an even wider variety of iconic smartphones, and enjoy the outstanding U.S. Cellular customer experiences they deserve.”

We checked in to see what has changed, and here’s what U.S. Cellular told AllThingsD: “We will be selling iPhone products later this year. We don’t have any additional information at this time but will follow up closer to the launch. The deal we’ve made to sell iPhone products is right for our business today, because we now have an LTE solution that enables a successful partnership with Apple.”

So it remains to be seen which Apple products U.S. Cellular will sell. And, of course, it’s hard to know if the company got a better deal this time around than the one it was offered back in 2011.

Apple is known for driving tough bargains in exchange for allowing carriers to sell the iPhone — arrangements that often include hefty guaranteed minimum commitments.


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