Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: T-Mobile USA is going to get the iPhone.According to a new note from Merrill Lynch, “speculation is heightening” that Deutsche Telecom will announce plans to bring the iPhone to T-Mobile at next week’s analyst meeting. Deutsche Telecom is the German parent company of T-Mobile.
Philip Elmer DeWitt at Fortune has the Merill Lynch note.
Two days ago we saw a Bloomberg news alert that UBS was reporting T-Mobile would get the iPhone in early 2013. In July, Bernstein said T-Mobile would get the iPhone in 2013.
This is not the first time T-Mobile getting the iPhone speculation has sprung up. It’s long been rumoured, but never happened. In September T-Mobile’s CMO told employees it wasn’t getting the iPhone 5 this year.
T-Mobile needs the iPhone because customers are jumping to other carriers that have the iPhone. In February, it lost 700,000 customers because it didn’t have the iPhone.
To attract, or keep, customers T-Mobile has told people to buy expensive, unlocked iPhones and use them on its network. That’s an unsatisfying, and complicated option.
Selling the iPhone can be expensive for a carrier. Sprint, for instance, had to agree to buy 30.5 million iPhones over the next four, which is roughly equal to a $20 billion investment. T-Mobile has thus far resisted making that sort of investment.
T-Mobile is the fourth largest carrier in the U.S. with 33 million customers. If Apple does sell the iPhone at T-Mobile, Merrill only estimates it sells four million units in 2013, which doesn’t have much impact on its overall sales.
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