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Summary:

Apple, it is rumored has signed a deal that will allow the Cupertino-based computer company to source 12 million iPod-based phones from a Taiwanese electronics manufacturer. In itself, the news is hardly a surprise for the iPhone has been subject of rampant speculation. What is surprising […]

Apple, it is rumored has signed a deal that will allow the Cupertino-based computer company to source 12 million iPod-based phones from a Taiwanese electronics manufacturer. In itself, the news is hardly a surprise for the iPhone has been subject of rampant speculation.

What is surprising the speculation that Apple will sell these phones unlocked, allowing consumers to pop in their SIM cards and use it as a phone. In the US, that would mean getting a SIM card from either the Cingular or T-Mobile. If this is indeed true, and it is not clear if it is so, then Apple will be lending a helping hand to the mobile phone makers.


You can buy unlocked phones in Europe, Asia and on the Internet. But in the US, the carriers in exchange of a long-term contract subsidize most of the handsets, typically between one to two years.

Since they are the big buyers of handsets, the US mobile phone providers have an unnatural control over the market, and thus giving them the ability to dictate what features or models come to market. Many of the major handset makers roll over and play The Pooch, as a result.

Nokia for example doesn’t sell the E61 smart phone in the US, and instead sells a striped down E62 (no WiFi) via Cingular. LG Chocolate (GSM) version is nowhere to be found, but you can get it from Verizon. It is a source of frustration for many handset makers, since they would like to sell their latest phones at premium prices.

The introduction of the unlocked iPhone will do two things – it would basically get US buyers savvy to the idea of buying full priced unlocked phones. Secondly, it is going to cause a behavior change – of buying phones instead of freebies.

It won’t be a mass-market phenomenon in the early stages, but eventually (as shown by iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle), Apple will bring the iPhone prices down to a mass-market price point.

If iPhone causes this behavior change, then, it is good news for rest of the handset industry. Nokia is currently selling three million N Series phones a month, a number that could easily go up if the company could sell its entire range of products at full price. So if you are Nokia or Samsung, it is time to secretly root for the success of iPhone.

By Om Malik

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  1. I see an added benefit – for criminals. One mugging and not only do you get an unlocked phone, you also get somebody’s entire network’s phone numbers and all their music. What a bounty that would be.. Of course I make this remark purely with the knowledge that mobile phones remain the most common reason for muggings here in the UK, now closely followed by iPods..

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  2. Looks like the first link in this post is broken, Om.

    Luke

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  3. By this time next year goog will be giving iphone’s or something with the same functionality, away like AOL used to give away disks. One year may be too soon but two years is a lock. Schmidt and Urs have both said something to the effect that utiilties(specifically power and telco) may be better positioned as businesses if they gave away computers(power companies) and phones(telco/wireless) because the revenue they can achieve by providing services to computers and phones is greater than the customer acquisition costs. Something btwn the lines there perhaps?

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  4. I’m reading that they’re trying to release it in early 2007. So maybe the timeline would start with an announcement in Q1, FCC approval shortly thereafter, and then a Q2 launch.

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  5. Hardly! If at all the US Handset market opens up with iPhone, it would be a side-effect. Nobody will buy the Apple phone because its unlocked. They will buy it because its a better product than the current generation of mobiles out there. With Apple’s brand appeal and marketing prowess, they can definitely beat the crap out the incumbent players. Big trouble for the handset majors lies ahead IMHO.

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  6. I don’t agree fully on this. It’s true that majority of devices sold in the U.S. goes via carriers. However, Nokia already started to sell its phones unlocked in its Flagship store. Plus, there are many stores online selling unlocked devices and it seems that they do well.

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  7. I have had a number of phones from a number of makers over the years and I have YET to experience a well designed product. (Blackberry excluded) I believe it will be some type of crossover functionality from the ipod world that will drive sales initially. Perhaps rendezvous for discovery and short range free messaging to get the kids excited.

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  8. Unlocked mobile phones are so normal here! You get them from 50 dollars on. They are a great way to save money since we have those new mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) like Easy Mobile, Simyo, Blau and others. I just bought a SIM card from one of them and now I only pay one third of my former minute price. No setup fee, no monthly minimal use, no basic monthly fee. I just put their SIM card into my unlocked GSM phone and made my first call. When there is another MVNO that is even cheaper I will get a SIM card from them.

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  9. Opening Bell: 11.16.06…

    Sponsored by Bloomberg.com Dell knocks back Q3 results as SEC probe turns formal (The Register) That’s the problem with informal SEC investigations, they have a knack for becoming formal ones. Sure, the first time they show up in their jeans…

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  10. The Telco’s will not be too enthusiastic about the unlocked phones going mainstream.
    All major Telco’s have some sort of serial number tracking system in place.
    If unlocked phones are sold it would create more problems for them; i.e. Customers want to install T-zones on their unlocked phones.

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  11. I’m in the US and I’ve been buying unlocked handsets exclusively for years. Sellers of unlocked phones are readily available here. Amazon.com, Buy.com, and others come to mind, as well as smaller phone retailers.

    Currently I use the Sony Ericsson W810i (Walkman phone) and love it. I’ve been buying Macs since 1986, but the iPhone will have to be fantastic for me to drop my W810i.

    That the iPhone will/might ship unlocked is a big deal, not for the handset market in the States, but for Apple. I’ve been blogging about this topic for years: A locked iPhone does not fit into Apple’s usability philosophy, particularly because there’s no one carrier that covers the entire US up to Apple’s standards.

    Buy shipping an unlocked phone Apple can more or less guaranty that coverage will not be an issue, and as we all know coverage is pretty much the make or break factor when choosing a carrier.

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  12. I think it makes sense, Apple will want to cater to the hip crowd, getting them to move their existing SIM to an iPhone.

    But that does not mean that the carriers won’t be able to sell the iPhone locked at a later date, after all, it’s all software, right? :)

    Here in Europe we saw the same thing 10 years ago: most mobiles would be sold through carriers, mainly to get them cheaper, but over the years a double market has developed: subsidized phones for carriers to fight each ohter and/or get younger/new users, and free, more feature-rich phones for those wanting to change. Sometimes the same model would be available both ways (also to show off the ‘savings’ if you buy the carrier locked version), but other times models are different…

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  13. Do you really think that consumers WANT to pay full price for phones?! When I signed up for my contract, a new Samsung MMA900 from Sprint would have set me back a solid $400, but with the two year I got it for $150. Granted, I could have switched providers during that time or sold the phone on ebay and bought another, but the fact remains that premium phones carry premium prices and only the most savvy of users want to shell that out.

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  14. I will pay full price for a non-crippled phone. You also do realize that you are just amortizing the cost of the phone in your service plan. What will happen when they finally start lowering plan prices when you don’t have to subsidize a phone.

    I personally like the Japanese cell phone model where they essentially give you points depending on what plan you have and you can apply those points towards your next phone. So if you have a $30/month plan, then you might get enough points to get a free basic phone every 2 years, and if you have a $150/month plan, you might get a top-of-the-line phone for free every 9 months or so.

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  15. Shefaly – I don’t think this what-if-it-gets-stolen mindset has affected the sales of Ipods (or wallets).

    This will increase the sales of unlocked phones and bring the prices down. “locked” phones are about to go away.

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  16. Weaverluke,

    thanks for the heads up on the link. fixed it. sorry about that.

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  17. Brad,

    not all but there a substatial portion of buyers who want to get a phone which is not dominated by the carrier stuff, or is locked to a single network. people also want to be able to buy a phone from wherever they want.

    I think the argument i am making is that if people buy a phone from the Apple store, there is a good chance they can go to the Nokia store and buy a phone.

    Of course, I could be wrong…

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  18. Just by reading your comments I’ve observed that 9 out of 10 of you would buy an “unlocked” phone. I’ll bet Apple knows this as well.

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  19. Just by reading your comments I’ve observed that 9 out of 10 of you would buy an “unlocked” phone. I’ll bet Apple knows this as well.

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  20. Apple won’t sell an unlocked phone. How would they reap the rewards from making their iTunes/Apple platform available on handsets? Translation: if the phone is unlocked how does Apple get a revenue share of the data and voice ARPU? Sure, they’ll make money by being the gatekeeper for the content and applications available for purchase, but there is a big (probably $80 month for this demographic) ARPU nut that Jobs won’t be able to resist dipping his hand into. He knows he can bring tons of subscribers to the carrier that steps up and offers a nice revenue share.

    Ironically, and often ignored by Apple lovers, Jobs has learned all of Microsoft’s tricks and then some. Apple’s marketing still appeals to the anti-establishment crowd, but the truth is that Apple is as proprietary as it gets. And wisely so.

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  21. excellent comments!

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  22. I disgaree with a few points and believe that some misunderstanding has taken place.

    First, how could handset manufacturers beable to get full retail if they sell directly versu through mobile carriers? I believe the market will demand lower prices as it will be comparing against the subsidized prices.

    Second, as Apple comes late to the party as a handset vendor, and they want to gain rapid traction, they will partnber with a single major Carrier in each market. This will enable them to bring value to the Carrier which will enable them to charge higher prices to the Carrie rup front. Later Apple will move to a anyone can offer it scenario.

    Also, as we may be savvy about moving SIMs between sets, most users are not educated in this, and they will remain so. I believe the push wil be take your existing SIM out of your old phone from “XXX” Carrier and plug into an iPhone. But only from a specific Carrier, initially. Maybe AQpple sells firmware upgrades later that enable moving your original iPhone between all Carriers once it becomes a truly unlocked terminal.

    So, the iPhone will be a hit, it will be exclusive initially, it will drive the Carrier to higher subscriber numbers, ARPU, and market value while giving Apple another nail in their building of an “all digital, all Apple” lifestyle marketing approach. And mostly toward the young, the hip, and the technorati.

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  23. Its great news if they do sell unlocked phones. I disagree with a couple of the posts that they will not because they might want a cut off the carrier’s services. Apple tends to be a hardware company and they will already leverage their music services with this product and I don’t see them scraping for more dollars from the carriers.

    Also with their brand power I don’t see them discounting the phones by doing the same sort of deals like the other handset manufacturers.

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  24. More More MORE Speculation On The iPhone…

    Now here’s an interesting iPhone rumor. Om Malik of Gigaom.com is speculating the Apple might sell the phone unlocked, as in, beholden to no network in particular. Did I not read somewhere that Apple had done some sort of exclusivity…

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  25. Om,
    I would love for the U.S. cellphone market to be more like the European market. However, here in the Northeast people swear by their Verizon phone service. Not even an iphone could get them to switch to a different carrier. Could apple include all the different signals in one phone?

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  26. I still can’t believe you don’t offer unlocked phones. Here in Australia we do have subsidised phones on offer but they are few and far betweeen. There’s a lot more freedom here that what it sounds like you have.

    If I had known this earlier I may have made a business move on this – it just makes sense. Apple are right on the money.

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  27. Who’s actually overlooked the idea of opening up its own mobile phone service, google did it with wi-fi (the got businesses to provide free wi-fi in return they were able to use the network), this could be a possibility, but a highly doubtable one.

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  28. I purchased an unlocked phone – moto razr, amazingly, Cingular would not help get the browser to work properly. They wanted a 2 year contract to switch from and AT&T SIM to a Cingular SIM. T-Mobile wanted an 11 month contract for just a SIM. Why are American carriers so hell bent on contracts? Why not compete on price, features, and technology?

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  29. i think you’re missing the real benefit of a market without subsidy from the carriers.

    the real benefit is that the carriers will not be able to limit the phone’s functionality to protect their interests (and block innovation from reaching the users).

    it will probably not matter much in the case of an iPhone, since apple is not known for making their devices open for developers..

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  30. First of all, I doubt that a number of handset sales can “easily go up if the company could sell its entire range of products at full price.” Mass market got used to subsidized phones in the US. Everything that goes above the phsycological price barrier of $99 is a hard-sell. And I’m talking about the mass market here, not geeks. The mass market still needs phone just for voice communications, it is not ready to pay premium for hype add-ons.

    Secondly, Nokia and Sony Ericsson are selling unlocked phones in the US from their websites. Nokia also, as you mentioned, has two stores in the US. So, if you want you can buy unlocked phone in the US, but look at the prices – they are too high to afford for the majority.

    Another point is that by selling unlocked iPhones, Apple will limit their availability to the GSM user base only – in the US it is roughly 50% of wireless phone users. It doesn’t sound as a goog business plan to offer your product to only half of the market. I doubt that users would leave Verizon and Sprint Nextel on a mass scale just for the privelige to have iPhone.

    Apple can create an MVNO – sure it can get a couple of millions of its loyal users under its banner, but MVNO business is risky and expensive and you need to have some expertise. Not sure Apple will go this way. Once again, don’t forget of global exposure of iPod brand, and MVNO will limit iPhones to the US only. Of course, Apple can start with the US first and then gradually expand internationally with its MVNO brand, but it’s a lengthy process with a lot of obstacles. Though, I can see one advantage Apple has and other handset vendors don’t have – a network of Apple’s stores across the globe. Nokia and Motorola just started to build it.

    Another way for Apple is just to continue selling iPhones through partnesrships with carriers. Motorola’s handsets with iTunes sold for approx. one million already. But if Apple manufactures iPhones by itself, will this business profitable? Don’t forget for royalties Apple has to pay for using wireless standards and technologies. Motorola sells around 40 million handsets every quarter, so they have the economy of scale, but what about Apple? Is the reported 12 million handsets enough to cover the development, distribution, royalty pays and sales expences? Don’t know.

    Overall, I don’t know all the economics, but I think Apple would rather partner with carriers to get subsidized deals rather than going MVNO way. But, hey! Maybe, Mr. Jobs has already thought about some unusual business model, we don’t know about? We’ll see.

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  31. Somehow Apple will get its share of revenue from:
    1. handset sales (hardware)
    2. MobileMe tiered storage subscription plans to access your data anywhere anytime. Apple trademarked MobileMe but no one seems to know exactly what it is. This data can include basic stuff (contacts and bookmarks), or your documents (webpages), or advanced stuff like your owned media (music, podcasts, videos, movies) library.
    3. MobileMe subscription that includes video iChat using the camera with other phones or computers via 3G networks (cellular gets some additional revenue here).
    4. MobileMe subscriptions could be available to PC iTunes users, but somehow Apple might make a .Mac link preferable (iWeb pages, iChat) thus making a Mac more preferable.

    Apple is aiming to bring the Internet delivery model to both the TV/cable carrier and now the cellular carrier industries. They will allow the carriers (cable, telco, satellite, cellular, etc) to collect the basic fee for transport but compete with them on any carrier-based walled garden services approach. Of course, all the Apple-critics will point out that Apple has its own walled garden in its restricting media playback to Apple devices (except for Windows computers).

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  32. Will iPhone Save Handset Business?…

    posted at IndianBytes.c…

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  33. Apple will be able to go above the $99 psychological barrier for cell phones because it’s really selling an enhanced iPod.

    It will be comparable to an iPod nano with phone capabilities so if you allow the phone to cost even just $50, then Apple should be able sell a 2GB version for $199, and an 8GB version for $299 (or maybe it will have more flash or cost less by first half 07 since flash prices will have dropped again by then).

    To cement this difference, I believe it’s highly likely that Apple will call it an iPod xxxx instead of iPhone.

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  34. The comments about Apple needing a share of voice/data revenue are completely out of line with Apple’s device strategy as shown in the ipod.

    Apple’s proposition is about the small but high-end market opening based around users who are about either 1) coolness/design 2) usability (sync, integration, etc) or 3) having an unlocked phone.

    The third is actually the smallest, least compelling proposition – but it’s critical if apple is going to avoid pressure from networks about handset features.

    Apple have shown that they’ll forgo scale to maintain control of the customer experience which is core to their brand.

    The whole US model is based on suckering consumers into commitment – of course that is viable for the person who won’t pay more than $99 for a phone, but Apple could make a profitable product in this space at $499 or even higher and there is a market out there who will pay it, and the networks would have to accommodate it.

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  35. bryan christmas Thursday, November 16, 2006

    Om, I love ya buddy, but there’s no way in hell Steve-O would go for some half assed model like that.

    For starters, we all know that WE want to buy unlocked phones, we’re total geeks! But when was the last time Apple released a niche product that targeted only total geeks? If Apple’s doin it, it’s gonna be something that everyone you know wants. Can you really see everyone you know buying an unlocked phone? Most people don’t even know what a SIM card is!

    Secondly, if there’s one thing we know about Jobs, it’s that he likes to have total control over the whole user experience. Jobs likes to have everyone using Apple software to consume Apple-bought content on Apple hardware that they got from an Apple Store. He would rather DIE than just drop a phone into people’s hands and say “ok, you go figure out the rest.”

    Which brings us to the last point, that the wireless space is a whole new channel for Apple to sell content and services through. Not taking advantage of that opportunity would be leaving at least half the pie on the table- very un-Jobs like.

    I realize Apple that making a deal with a carrier or starting an MVNO are both difficult options. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see Apple do an MVNO for some of the above reasons. Apple also now has some leverage to use with the carriers in a partnership, namely the iPod brand, Disney content, and possibly a partnership with Google.

    Don’t get me wrong, if Apple released an unlocked iPhone it would make my millennium and I’d sell a kidney to get one, but it’s just not gonna happen.

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    1. Apple will be able to go above the $99 psychological barrier for cell phones because it’s really selling an enhanced iPod.
      It will be comparable to an iPod nano with phone capabilities so if you allow the phone to cost even just $50, then Apple should be able sell a 2GB version for $199, and an 8GB version for $299 (or maybe it will have more flash or cost less by first half 07 since flash prices will have dropped again by then).

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  36. I would buy such a phone because I want the convergence and I don’t want the service provider soaking me for every last nickel. VZ currently blocks any ability to put music, etc. on their phones via your computer because they want to sell you every last item.

    OTOH, VZ has the best coverage where I live and travel, so I’d have to be convinced that GSM coverage has improved.

    And if I’m not amortizing a phone, I’d want to see the monthly cost go down compared to that of those who are. How long before we see that?

    LB

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  37. Apple hasn’t done revenue share in other arenas because Apple hasn’t entered the Telco arena until this device. To capture value in the Telco service space, revenue share is the only way to go.

    Think about RIM and their business model. They make money on the hardware AND the service – every carrier pays RIM between $4-10 a month for the right to provide the BlackBerry email service. RIM actually has a stranglehold on their platform as well – but they don’t know how to take advantage of it like Jobs does. If RIM gets $4-10 per month for their Intellectual Property and push-email server, what do you think Apple will get for their sex appeal, iTunes content and sales? Multiply that by 12 and you will quickly change your mind about Apple not caring about revenue share.

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  38. Apple doesn’t care about the revenue share for the core cellular business, just like they don’t care about ISP portal business or the advertising business. Their goal is to build Web-connected end user services on top of everybody else’s infrastructure, SO they can sell their insanely great devices to consumers for a hefty profit.

    SIM cards are no longer a geek thing, and even if it was, it would be very much like Apple to take it and make it mainstream. MP3 players? Podcasts? In any case, even my 79-year old dad knows about SIM cards because he can get an almost free contract just by putting a SIM card into an old phone.

    Apple goes direct to the consumer when its a consumer device, and puts the consumer in control, bypassing “orifices”. So unlike RIM’s deals with carriers, Apple will try to sell a service directly to the consumer; that’s what Apple Stores and the Apple brand are all about. And for that, an unlocked phone will give that service a much wider global base of users in the long run.

    Just to be clear, this doesn’t mean that Apple won’t partner. Contrast the above with Apple working with car mfrs and airlines (two other kinds of transport). Here the end user buys cars and airline tickets (service). You can work out the rest but you will see that a cellular service is more like a cable TV service than either a car, or airline service.

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  39. i live in Madrid, and my 2 last phones were unlocked by default

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  40. What about a business model where Apple will offer iPhones/iPods running on cellular network, but without voice service, only data. So iPhone users will use it for social networking (SMS, chats, sharing playlists and songs, etc.) and OTA song downloads? Do you think they can do it? I don’t think they use WiFi for that purpose because it will drain the battery pretty fast.

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  41. “it’s gonna be something that everyone you know wants. Can you really see everyone you know buying an unlocked phone? “

    “wireless space is a whole new channel for Apple to sell content and services through”

    Bryan,

    Where to start. How about in reverse order.

    Apple doesn’t have to turn it’s back on a mobile phone service revenue stream just because it will sell an unlocked iPhone. You’re thinking about the mobile market as it was in the ’80’s, perhaps. It’s different now, of course.

    Apple could quite easily sell SIM cards and/or pre-paid SIM cards in the Apple Retail Store for iPhone buyers that don’t have an existing SIM. Apple makes money off the iPhone and off the SIM card/pre-paid.

    The alternative, to partner with one or two carriers is absurd these days, as people travel around the country and around the world and want ONE mobile phone. An unlocked phone solves that problem and is, really, a non-issue to consumers just so long as it’s unlocked.

    And for someone to object to buying an unlocked phone is as absurd as to object to buying a land line phone because it will work with any land line provider the customers chooses.

    We don’t go to a Best Buy and ask for a 2.4GHz cordless that will work specifically with, say, Quest. We just ask for a 2.4GHz cordless phone, plug it in at home and make calls.

    The same thing is possible with an unlocked mobile handset.

    Customers need not be SIM-savy as you seem to be suggesting. Again, it’s just a feature. Like computers that work with any ISP, not a specific ISP, because they have ethernet, 802.11, whatever,

    Best of all, the customer can either swap his/her SIM into the iPhone or have the Apple Store Genius do it. This is exactly what’s happening in TMobile, Verizon, Sprint, etc retail stores millions of times each day.

    Apple wants to satisfy the demand you described, and because of several reasons, the mobile climate is right for selling unlocked handsets. Just ask Sony Ericsson.

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  42. Matthew wrote:
    “The alternative, to partner with one or two carriers is absurd these days, as people travel around the country and around the world and want ONE mobile phone. An unlocked phone solves that problem and is, really, a non-issue to consumers just so long as it’s unlocked.”

    Disagree. This is an idealistic point of view. It’s too early to say that if you have ONE unlocked phone, you can get a wireless service around the globe. You still need a carrier anyway. While you can have ONE phone (if it’s unlocked)with GSM carriers (even GSM bands are different in Europe and US, so this phone should support all four GSM bands), you would end up with different phone numbers for each country you go. What about CDMA carriers, they don’t use SIM cards (at least the SIM cards that can be inserted by users). What about Asia, Japan or South Korea? They don’t use SIM cards as well. You mentioned Verizon and Sprint, but they don’t support SIM cards and unlocking is quite difficult with CDMA phones. Last thought, the majority of people don’t travel much on business, only minority does. So, they don’t need ONE phone, they need cheap or free phone that is good for making voice calls and that looks cool.

    Besides controlling features on handsets, why do you think carriers sell phones under $99? In order to lure customers to sign a contract, ideally for 2 years. Carriers don’t make money selling handsets, they make money selling wireless service. Without subsidizing the phones, it would be much difficult to get people onboard.

    How do you think Apple is going to seel prepaid SIM cards? To do that, Apple will need to partner with carriers to buy wireless traffic from them and resell it to iPhone users (the so-called MVNO model).

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  43. Just remember that key to Apple is branding. The one thing about an Apple branded MVNO is that Apple could protect their brand. Once they hand it off to any US Carrier, they would tarnish their image. They can afford to stay out of the market if they can’t protect their brand/image. I would say their best bet is to do an GSM based MVNO service in the US to start. Savvy users that travel could figure out how to do the SIM swap thing. Apple could then work on EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) providers. When they can’t control everything they tend to so tiered launches like with iTunes.

    CDMA is key for Asia and seem to remember a a rumor a while back that Japan was going to get an iPhone first via Softbank Mobile (formerly Vodafone Japan, and before that J-Phone).

    Having said all that, maybe the wait is they are making a GSM/CDMA phone. Motorola has made one in the past: http://www.motorola.com/motoinfo/product/details.jsp?globalObjectId=49

    I guess we can just wait. Not like Apple is going to release any details any time soon!!

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  44. varomir,

    You bring up solid errors in my post. I should have used Cingular and TMobile as my SiM swapping example in the States, as they are doing it for millions of customers. My oversight.

    As for Apple selling prepaid SIM cards, I had in mind the same arrangement that, say, Apple has with retailers that sell prepaid iTunes cards. I don’t see why Apple partnering with mobile carriers to put this into action would be a problem. Nor do I think it’s requisite to selling an unlocked iPhone.

    As for the price point, Apple doesn’t need to sell a $99 iPhone for it to be successful, for the same reason they didn’t sell a $99 iPod out of the gate. There are plenty of customers at the $400-700 range that will happily buy an iPhone. We’re already paying those prices for unlocked phones offered by Sony Ericsson.

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  45. Forget the Sim cards.
    Here is the magic formula:

    Ipod + Wifi + Hotspots + VOIP

    “The wifi kills the mobile star”

    :D

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  46. dani, agree but it’s still too early for Apple to do by itself. If they were to partner with Google and one or two other solid hotspot providers, then maybe. So someday…

    The issue with an MVNO is that it puts the Apple brand name on an underlying cellular service without having the ability to control the quality of that service. They could provide better customer service, but they can’t do anything about reliability, dropped calls, etc. So I think they’d be better off allowing the user to choose the service provider themselves, in the same way that one chooses an Internet service provider (cable/dsl). The Apple Store could sell SIM cards from a variety of cellular providers (GSM only) to go with the unlocked iPod phone.

    Then, in the same way that the iTunes Store and .Mac rides atop the Internet cable/dsl service, Apple can sell services (iChat, iTunes Store, MobileMe) atop the cellular service. The potential for these services is huge, especially those that could entice a user to use Mac OS X and iLife.

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  47. My guess is the iPhone (or whatever it’s called) will be positioned over the other music devices and will be the high-end item. iPod Shuffle -> Nano -> Video -> Phone. They’re (supposedly) ordering 12 million phones so you can bet they’ll be unlocked so they can sell them as world phones. I don’t know if they’ll create their own MVNO immediately but it might be in their best interests eventually to combine it with the iTunes Music store. I need a new phone (bad) but I’m waiting until after January.

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  48. Why would Jobs pass up on a revenue share opportunity when the potential amount to be had is on the order of $180 of pure profit in ONE year? What’s the best sceneario on profit on hardware sales for one high-end iPod – $180 AT BEST! So, if you think Jobs is just out to help people and not to make money, then he’ll count on hardware revenue only and sell an unlocked phone.

    It’s easy to lock a phone that connects to a proprietary data services platform – iTunes! Sure, you could take your locked phone and make phone calls and send text messages on another carrier network – and probably sync your music onto it – but you’d miss out on all the great connected features that Apple will surely include with this handset.

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  49. It is very unlikely that carriers subsidizing phones will disappear from the market because this would go against basic consumer psychology. Customers want to pay as little as possible upfront even if that means paying more over time for the service. Look at printers, where most of the money is made on toners. Look at game consoles where most of the money is made on the games themselves. Subsidizing handsets is a one-way street, once the customers are used to it, there is no way back. Carriers already found this to be the case in many European markets where their efforts to reduce handset subsidies failed.

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  50. The iPhone Will Save Nothing…

    This article suggests that the iPhone might “get US buyers savvy to the idea of buying full priced unlocked phones” instead of getting subsidized phones. This could “Save the Handset Business” (from the carriers). It&rsquo…

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  51. 10 Reasons You Will Want the Apple iPhone…

    Since the dawn of time, man has wondered: will Apple come out with a iPhone, and will it match the success of the iPod?
    This is the Internet, of course, so by the dawn of time I mean three or four years ago, well before the Motorolla Rokr came out. De…

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  52. Check out http://www.cheepzone.com for cheap cell phones, electronics and gifts! for christmass! Everythign is CHEAP!

    http://www.cheepzone.com

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  53. As an authorized agent of Unicel in the Northeast, this phone will be in hot demand at the retail price. Yes, some people, many people, still need basic handsets. However, the Apple name and product is enough for me to move several of these units. An unlocked quad-band phone works just fine on the Unicel network. I was selliing the KRZR and the SLVR long before Unicel brought them into inventory at full retail price and had buyers. Right now I’ve been moving the RIZR and the Sanyo D-900 in the $500 price range. I believe the iPhone will move more units than any of the previously mentioned phones. How sure of this am I? There is no Cingular service in my state. The customers (the same ones that drop hundreds of dollars on PS3, XBOX, or Wii) will have no option but to pay the full retail price to use it on our network. Cha-Ching!!

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  54. I think iphone is a greatest gadget that I ever seen ! I love it!
    Check this prepaid phone cards shop. Here you can find large variety of calling cards and rates! Call directly from your mobile phones!

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  55. [...] the latest on the iPhone, there are plenty of specific rumors on a potential release in January. According to reports, the phone will have both GSM and CDMA radios making it carrier independent. Plus it will have a [...]

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  56. [...] The introduction of the unlocked iPhone will do two things – it would basically get US buyers savvy to the idea of buying full priced unlocked phones. Secondly, it is going to cause a behavior change – of buying phones instead of freebies. (Will iPhone save the handset business?) [...]

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  57. Good review — but there remain some nagging questions. No IM means not even Apple’s iChat will work? (I suppose so, but that seems odd.)
    I assume as well that no VOI like Skype can be downloaded to use when on WiFi.
    Full fledged web browser should mean all webmail programs work on iPhone, but I never see Hotmail mentioned among the examples. Is this just a courtesy — or do some webmails not work for some reason?
    MAIN QUESTION: will the iPhone work for WiFi without an ATT plan? I’d be happy to use it as an iPod/PDA/WiFi device — at least until I can get out of my Verizon plan without eating a penalty. I like calling cards, using free phone
    card comparison
    tool to lower my cellular calling cost.

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  58. Who’s actually overlooked the idea of opening up its own mobile phone service, google did it with wi-fi (the got businesses to provide free wi-fi in return they were able to use the network), this could be a possibility, but a highly doubtable one.

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