1) Apple receives a $450 subsidy.
Incorrect: Apple receives a $400 subsidy.
I know from talks with Best Buy (NYSE:BBY
) managers that the subsidy is $400. Best Buy purchases a 16GB iPhone from Apple for $542, and sells it for $199 with a 24-month service contract. AT&T reimburses Best Buy $400.
A 16GB iPhone without a contract commitment costs $599. If the subsidy were $450, then that price should be $650, or AT&T would be leaving $50 on the table. In addition, the math suggests $450 subsidy is too high given the ASPs implied by the cash value of iPhones sold reported by Apple.
2) After AT&T loses exclusivity that subsidy will drop to $300 for all carriers, domestic and international.
Incorrect: Subsidy shouldn’t change.
Gene Munster – Piper Jaffray
We’re looking at the iPhone, it’s pretty clear we’re still in a greenfield opportunity here, but if you start to go to multiple carriers can you talk a little bit about the pricing of the phone when you go from exclusivity to multiple carriers? And obviously, not specific but any sort of color we can have in terms of pricing dynamics change on the phone from you to the carrier?
Timothy D. Cook
Our pricing is confidential, Gene, so it’s not something I could comment on in detail but generally speaking from markets where we’re already selling I would not expect to see a wholesale price difference as we bring on other carriers. However, the end user price is really set by the carriers themselves so you may or may not see a street price difference.
Gene Munster – Piper Jaffray
So when you go from exclusive to multiple carriers, you wouldn’t necessarily see change in pricing that you are charging the carrier? Is that correct?
Timothy D. Cook
Handset subsidies are a function of ARPU, or a subscriber’s monthly service bill. The ARPU across all AT&T customers is ~$51 compared to iPhone ARPU of nearly $100. Since the ARPU is nearly double, this allows a greater degree of subsidy recapture, thus allowing for a higher subsidy to applied to a mobile device.
3) iPhone users represent 4% of total AT&T subscribers.
Incorrect: iPhone users represent about 14% of AT&T’s total wireless customer base.
AT&T has roughly 11.3 million iPhone users. On the June call, AT&T said it had nearly 9M iPhone customers. AT&T has 81.6M wireless subs, with 63.4M being postpaid.
Brian Marshall stated: “roughly 4% of the AT&T users of the iPhone, consume about 40% of the overall network bandwidth.”
It’s not clear exactly what Marshall was referring to when he mentioned 4%, but most people took it to mean that iPhone users constitute 4% of AT&T’s customer base. I assume he got his figures mixed up. The 3.2 million iPhone activations in September period would equate to 4% of AT&T’s subscriber base. If he meant 4% of iPhone users, or about 450,000, consume 40% of AT&T’s bandwidth, then I would think AT&T would address those users since they represent 0.6% of AT&T’s wireless subscriber base. It wouldn’t make any sense to allow such a miniscule portion of customers affect the quality of service of the overall network.
4) iPhone activations from new AT&T customers made up more than 90% of postpaid net additions in September quarter.
Not Meaningful: Gross additions not net additions should be used as the metric.
iPhone activations from new AT&T customers totaled approx. 1.28 million. AT&T reported 1.39 postpaid net additions. However, AT&T attracted 3.57 million new postpaid customers, and 2.18 million postpaid customers left AT&T, resulting in 1.39 net additions.
Comparing iPhone activations from new AT&T customers versus net additions is a faulty metric, since net additions is dependent on gross additions and the number of disconnects (churn). The more meaningful metric is comparing new iPhone additions to postpaid gross additions, which was 36% (1.28 million / 3.57 million). Using net additions is meaningless.
To imply that the iPhone was responsible for 92% of AT&T’s increase in postpaid customers is inaccurate. The 1.28 million figure represents a portion of AT&T’s gross sub additions, therefore, it shouldn’t be used in a comparison of net additions. Subscriber churn affects subscriber net additions, and isn’t directly related to the iPhone’s ability to attract new customers.
Let’s say AT&T activated 2.28 million Blackberry devices from new AT&T customers. That would equate to 165% of postpaid net adds, whereas iPhone was 92% of postpaid net adds. Is that meaningful? Not really, since it’s possible that the figure can exceed 100%. Let’s say 2.28 million iPhone activations were from new customers, then that 92% would be 165%. Since the ceiling can exceed 100%, we don’t know is 92% or 165% or whatever the figure, is good or bad.
5) AT&T’s contract ends in June 2010.
Unknown: I have heard from sources at AT&T the contract runs until the end of 2010.
Neither AT&T nor Apple has publicly commented as to when the exclusivity ends. It was reported last year that Apple and AT&T extended their agreement until the end of 2010. It would make sense that the agreement runs until the end of the year since it commenced in the beginning of 2007. Even though the iPhone didn’t go on sale until June 2007, it was announced that January, allowing AT&T marketing rights for the time preceding the actual product launch.
Many assume that the deal will end mid-2010 since Apple introduces new iPhone models during that time of year. However, all we know is that the exclusivity agreement will end at some future time, but when that is exactly is anyone’s guess.
Disclosure: Long AAPL