The Wall Street Journal has an interesting piece this morning on the long-term price wireless carriers have paid for supporting the iPhone and other smartphones to their networks. As smartphones drive up data consumption, carriers have had to increase capital spending to bolster their networks. But most of the upside from those improvements has been captured by device makers and software developers. “For the most part, it’s really been a wealth transfer from [wireless] shareholders to Apple shareholders,” in the view of Nomura Securities analyst Michael McCormick. But the carriers should not have been surprised. Apple did the exact same thing to the record labels when it persuaded them to make single tracks available through iTunes for 99 cents. Great for selling iPods, but not so great for the labels, who ended up trading high-margin CD albums for low-margin single tracks. Basically, the arrangement transferred value from the record labels to Apple. It’s what Apple does.