Apple’s stock took a dip today back below $600 a share. Some are citing concern that carriers will cut the subsidies they pay Apple for the iPhone as the reason for the drop.
There hasn’t been much in terms of tangible evidence that this is even a possibility, but the writing does seem to be slowly appearing on the wall. The carriers are all still extremely profitable and they do very well selling the iPhone, but they do better on a per-device basis selling other phones because of the subsidy they must pay Apple.
Because the iPhone is the most popular single device across the carriers, they’re all seeing certain numbers slip as a result. The question becomes do the three U.S. carriers with the iPhone (Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint) have enough leverage to push back and make Apple take a lower cut?
I don’t know, but I do know the leverage they will try to use: Android.
But the fact that Apple has a fourth carrier, T-Mobile, chomping at the bit to pay them the same subsidy, doesn’t speak well for this strategy. Collectively, they all still need the iPhone more than Apple needs any one of them. So unless they team up (collusion?) to put Apple in a position with no carriers willing to pay them what they want, I just don’t see things changing.
Sadly, I still think the carriers will keep on screwing with customers (rate hike here, rate change there) before they screw with Apple.