Unlocked iPhone coming to Asia and rest of the world?
Tim Cook, Apple COO at Goldman Sachs Technology Symposium
February, 27 2008
Tim Cook was interviewed today at the annual Goldman Sachs Technology Symposium. This interview covered many Apple topics and Tim Cook was forthcoming. He noted that new iPhone enterprise features might be arriving soon (TBA during the SDK unveiling on March 6) and stated that Apple is “right on track” to hit their “10 million iPhones sold” goal by end of calendar year 2008. This presentation is worth a listen. Link to podcast > HERE
While today’s presentation covered a lot of ground, I wanted to highlight Apple’s apparent consideration of new iPhone business models. This might indicate that Apple would sell both a locked and unlocked iPhone in new markets (NOTE: See iPhone in Asia editorial comment at the end of this post for more analysis).
This “hint” came out during Tim Cook’s response to Moderator David Bailey’s questions. Nothing definitive was announced, however, Apple’s apparent openness to new business models could be a tremendously positive development for Apple, its shareholders, and for prospective iPhone owners in soon to be launched markets.
Here are a few quotes from Tim Cook during today’s Goldman Sachs presentation:
Paraphrasing Tim Cook:
“We are going to enter Asia this year!”
(answering a question about Apple’s iPhone “exclusive carrier” business model versus multiple carriers in each market)…
“Are we married to this business model? … Will we do that everywhere? We are not married to any business model. … What we are married to is shipping the best phone in the world and continuing every day to innovate and making it better and moving it from a device to a “platform” … we are married to that …
When you look at some of the international markets, you find that the markets are very different … you might find one where there is no post pay business … or minimal (post pay) … that might need a different business model. You might find one (market) where being exclusive might not be in our best interest.
And so I am not announcing what we will and won’t do … I am announcing that we are going to intelligently think about each one (each market) and then decide what is best for the company to do … And I will tell you that there is no shortage of interest in the iPhone by the carriers. You know I think that they see it as an enormous way to increase ARPUs (Average Revenue Per User) on their system … I think they see it as a fundamental, revolutionary device that gets people interested in data and really using their (the carriers’) network.”
Reading between the lines …
One “clear as a bell” (yet unstated) message from Tim Cook …
“Oh yeah … we have several new carriers deals + marketing/distribution plans all signed, sealed and delivered. And we are ready to roll shortly after our 3G iPhone is unveiled to the world”
Timing of new deal announcements and 3G iPhone unveiling? Certainly in time to sell millions of iPhones in calendar year 2008… My guess would be early June but no later than Sept 2008 … and I would expect by 1st quarter of 2009 we will see at least two and perhaps three new iPhone models with different features (nano, full-size, and ultra-portable MacPhone?) and price points to address the widest market possible.
iPhone in Asia Editorial Comment:
iPhone in Asia fully supports the notion of selling both a locked and unlocked iPhone in concert with all new carriers deals to be announced throughout the world.
I suspect the new 3G iPhone will be more hack resistant, yet there is no end to the resourcefulness of locksmiths. Unlocking could become far less a problem if Apple works out (with TBA carriers’ blessing) a two-tier offering … a locked iPhone w 2-year contract and a premium-priced unlocked iPhone in the same market.
This would follow the iPhone in France via Orange model (French law prohibits handsets from being locked to a network for more than 6 months). Such a move by Apple would preserve the revenue sharing model (albeit at a slightly lower revenue share as I imagine 20 to 30% would choose buy the “unlocked” iPhone), and at the same time deliver a death-blow to the black-market for hacked and jail-broken iPhones.
Setting the right price-point for the unlocked iPhone will be important. If the premium for the unlocked iPhone is too high, black-marketers will engage in arbitrage (unauthorized unlocking options at a lower cost). If the premium is modest, or “just right,” buyers who want to unlock will opt for the “official” easily upgradable iPhone that will come with a warranty and w/o the need to hack or jail-break.
See also …