Apple is working on adding more iPhone partners in the U.S., according to Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu, but don’t expect to see Verizon first on the list. Apparently the two companies are still working on the details, leading Mr. Wu to speculate that T-Mobile and Sprint could be next in line to join AT&T as iPhone partners.
“From our checks with industry and supply chain sources and a recent SEC 10-Q filing by AT&T mentioning that exclusivity with “a number of attractive handsets” could end, we have conviction that the iPhone could likely finally be at another carrier besides AT&T here in the U.S. in 2011,” Mr. Wu said.
While the rumor mill has repeatedly claimed for months that a Verizon iPhone deal is in the works, Mr. Wu thinks it may not be coming as quickly as some potential iPhone owners would like. “From our understanding, the Verizon negotiations are not finalized with important details still being ironed out, including technology and economics,” Mr. Wu said. “We think it is premature to rule out T-Mobile or Sprint. In addition, there is the possibility of multiple U.S. carriers being signed.”
Adding Verizon’s 93 million subscribers to AT&T’s 90 million would add a substanial number of potential new iPhone customers, and considering AT&T’s iPhone subscriber base may be approaching saturation, it would make for a nice new market for Apple to move into. Assuming Apple strikes deals first with T-Mobile (34 million subscribers) and Sprint (48 million subscribers), however, the potential U.S. iPhone user base would still jump up substantially while a Verizon deal is hammered out.
Assuming Apple and Verizon can strike a deal, AT&T will likely lose some iPhone customers, although the Android market — and to a lesser extent, RIM — will likely suffer losses, too. “Contrary to popular opinion, we believe Android would likely be impacted more by iPhone being carried on Verizon than BlackBerry. The reason is that the features sets are closer and Android phones are being positioned as iPhone alternatives,” Mr. Wu said.
Apple is currently trading at US$247.34, down 2.30 (-0.92%).
[Thanks to Fortune for the heads up.]