Followers of smartphone technology are no doubt tired of hearing the seemingly endless rumors that the iPhone (s aapl) is going to appear on carriers other than AT&T (s t) in the U.S. There have been at least one rumor for each carrier, and even some speculation that all U.S. carriers would be seeing the iPhone this year. Why so much speculation about this? The answer is revealed in a study found by an analyst at Morgan Stanley (s ms)– big money.
According to the study almost 17 percent of current Verizon customers have an “extreme interest” in getting an iPhone should the carrier offer the phone. That figure connotes a huge financial return for Big Red when you realize that Verizon has 90 million customers. When you carry the study results to a natural conclusion, there are 15.3 million customers that want a Verizon iPhone. That’s a lot of phones sold for Apple, and a huge annual return for Verizon on subscription fees.
Verizon might rake in big fees with an iPhone, but Apple wouldn’t mind reaping its rewards, either. It could expect to sell 7 -8 million iPhones a year to Verizon customers. This is enough to help Apple’s smartphone growth to increase almost 10 percent a year over the 26 percent currently held. These numbers are big enough that there might be some behind-the-scenes discussions to bring that AT&T exclusivity to a close. Perhaps we’ll hear more on June 7th when Steve Jobs gives the keynote at the WWDC.
Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub. req’d): Google Takes the Open Battle to Apple on Multiple Fronts