Apple iPhone Could Appear on T-Mobile: Rumors

Apple and T-Mobile are in negotiations to bring the iPhone to the carrier in the third quarter of 2010, according to a new rumor. Analysts had previously debated the merits of a T-Mobile iPhone.

The iPhone could arrive on T-Mobile in the third quarter, according to new rumors, with talks between Apple and the carrier supposedly at an "advanced stage."

That comes from Cult of Mac, which is claiming an unnamed-but-highly-placed source at T-Mobile. For the moment, AT&T remains the exclusive carrier in the United States. Despite user complaints about AT&T's perceived inability to handle the data demands of iPhone owners in heavy-usage areas such as New York City and San Francisco, carrying Apple's smartphone has worked out well financially for the carrier, which announced revenue of $30.8 billion for the second quarter.

During a recent conference call, AT&T Chief Financial Officer Rick Linder suggested that his company was "moving heaven and earth" to improve the network in particularly challenging areas, including the aforementioned cities.

Nonetheless, analysts and pundits have made a parlor game out of questioning which carrier could receive the iPhone next. Popular consensus has long been Verizon, with some analysts suggesting the iPhone would arrive on that network at the beginning of 2011, as part of Verizon's larger push for its 4G LTE (long-term evolution) network.

Analysts have also considered the idea of the iPhone on T-Mobile, with Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu suggesting such a pairing for either late 2010 or early 2011.

"From our understanding, this is becoming closer to reality than ever, with sourcing indicating that it could happen as early as this fall or by [the first half of 2011]," Wu wrote in a June 10 research note. "While the general consensus is around Verizon (which we believe will happen eventually), we continue to believe that T-Mobile USA is the most likely candidate given its use of similar cellular technology such as AT&T."

In addition, Wu wrote, "We believe [Apple] ultimately needs to sign an additional U.S. carrier to sustain its high growth rates ... Android's wins have been where iPhone isn't available and that could change dramatically if the iPhone were available on more carriers."

Apple reported sales of 8.4 million iPhones in the third fiscal quarter of 2010, helping propel total revenues of $15.7 billion and a net quarterly profit of $3.25 billion. Sales of the new iPhone 4, despite reported antenna-rim issues, are apparently outstripping Apple's current production capacity. "We're selling every unit we make," Tim Cook, Apple's chief operating officer, mentioned during a July 20 earnings call.