A Shift to Multiple Carriers Looks Like Apple's Smartest Next Move
News Analysis: Whether or not Apple will make its iPhone available to multiple carriers is currently unknown. But based on the iPhone's popularity, it seems like the smartest move that Apple could make. A carrier-agnostic iPhone would put new competitive pressure on all its smartphone competitors, especially RIM.In a released recently report, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster wrote that Apple's multicarrier model in France is working so well that it makes perfect sense for the company to follow a similar strategy elsewhere in the world, including the United States. Munster said that the iPhone's market share in France-40 percent-is the highest of any country in the world. And there's no reason to suggest that Apple couldn't have similar success if it brought its phones to multiple carriers in the other countries it offers its iPhone.
It makes sense. Apple's iPhone is undoubtedly the most attractive smartphone on the market. As nice as the BlackBerry Storm, Palm Pre and MyTouch 3G might be, they pale in comparison-at least in the end user's eyes-to the iPhone. They can't match Apple's more than 65,000 available applications.
Those phones software doesn't appeal to consumers as much as the iPhone's does. They don't have the marketing power Apple enjoys. They're not viewed as equals to Apple in any way. Like the iPod, the iPhone has revolutionized its market, and all the other companies in the space are trying desperately to find a way to catch up.
Arguably, Research In Motion is closest to achieving that goal. Unlike Apple, RIM's smartphones can be found on any carrier. It's the single feature that distinguishes the Canadian firm. It's also the main way RIM can attract both consumers and enterprise users who don't want to be caught in AT&T's grips. So far, it has proved to be RIM's Trojan horse. The company might not command the kind of mindshare Apple does in the space, but one thing is certain: Offering a BlackBerry on Sprint, AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile is helping the company. It gives end users options-options that, so far, Apple lovers don't have.
When Apple first announced the iPhone and made it available in 2007, it made sense for the company to offer it solely on AT&T. The carrier gave it a sweetheart deal, complete with revenue-sharing that made Apple look like the genius in the marketplace.