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iPhone to become available without contract

02 июля 2008

Smartphone buyers in the US will be able to buy a version of Apple’s new 3G iPhone for $599 without committing to a two-year service agreement, AT&T, the exclusive supplier of the iPhone in the US, said on Tuesday.

AT&T, which is locked in a fierce battle for customers with Verizon Wireless, the second largest US mobile operator, is counting on the new iPhone to give it the same subscriber boost the original iPhone did when it was launched last July.

The second generation iPhone, which includes a number of technology improvements, including the ability to work on the latest 3G mobile networks, is due to go on sale on July 11.

By selling a version of the new iPhone without a two-year contract, AT&T and Apple are hoping to forestall sales of “hacked” versions of the device which plagued sales of the original iPhone when it was launched in the US a year ago.

Many unauthorised “unlocked” first generation iPhones are believed to have found their way overseas and possibly contributed to lacklustre sales in Europe.

This time, Apple and its network partners have changed the iPhone business model from revenue sharing to the more traditional subsidy model found in Europe and North America.

Instead of Apple taking a share of the monthly service charge that iPhone owners pay to the network operators, the network operators will pay Apple an undisclosed subsidy for each iPhone they sell.

Analyst estimates for the size of that subsidy have ranged from $150 to $450, but the pricing of the unlocked 3G iPhone, however, lends credence to estimates by iSupply, the California-based market research firm, that the subsidy is about $300.

iSupply based its calculations on the cost of building the new iPhone, which it put at about $173, based on an analysis of the components used. “At a hardware bill of materials and manufacturing cost of $173, the new iPhone is significantly less expensive to produce than the first generation, despite major improvements in the products functionality and unique usability,” iSupply said.

AT&T has acknowledged that subsidising the new iPhone will reduce earnings in the short term, but most analysts, including Craig Moffett of Sanford Bernstein, believe that AT&T will nevertheless earn an attractive return on iPhone sales in part because of monthly service plan charges, which AT&T said on Tuesday will start at $70 a month.

Apple has targeted total worldwide iPhone sales of 10m units by the end of this year, a figure that Mr Moffett and others believe is achievable based on expec-ted sales of 5m second generation iPhones by year end.

Источник: Financial Times

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