Analyst: T-Mobile, Not Verizon, Will Get iPhone

T-Mobile — not Verizon — is more likely to get the nod when Apple is expected to expand it U.S. iPhone carriers as early as this fall, one analyst suggested Thursday.

Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu told investors the likelihood that Apple will add a second iPhone carrier in the U.S. to augment the currently exclusive arrangement with AT&T is “closer than reality than ever.” Additionally, “we continue to believe that T-Mobile USA is the most likely candidate given its use of similar cellular technology as AT&T,” he wrote.

Such a deal would have advantages both for the carrier and the Cupertino, Calif. iPhone maker. “We are picking up that T-Mobile views the iPhone as a key in winning back lost customers and as such could be more likely to agree to Apple’s terms,” according to Wu. Verizon and Apple reportedly have been at odds over the iPhone’s price. Apple wants Verizon to pay $700 per iPhone, while the carrier is paying $400 per Droid, an Android-based rival, according to analyst Maynard J. Um.

Also, Apple sees expanding the iPhone’s availability beyond AT&T as a way to counter the growth of such handsets as the Droid. Google has taken advantage of the single source for iPhone owners to offer its Android platform on a number of U.S. carriers. The tactic has propelled the iPhone rival from 0 percent of the market to 9 percent.

“Our sources also indicate that one of the key reasons why Apple is more open to adding U.S. carriers in the 2011 is to attack Android more directly,” Wu told investors. “Looking at industry data, Android’s wins have been where iPhone isn’t available and that could change dramatically if the iPhone were available on more carriers,” the analyst adds.

Another point in T-Mobile favor is technology. T-Mobile’s 3G service operating at 1700MHz and 2100MHz, which closely matches the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS’ 2100MHz 3G. AT&T supports 850MHz and 1900MHz frequencies.

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