AT&T has the exclusive carrier license in the Untied States for the iPhone. It is too early to tell how profitable this will be for AT&T. The licensing agreement between the two companies includes a payout to Apple from AT&T’s revenue generated from iPhone calls and data functions. Some rumblings in Europe may be a clue as to what it takes to get an exclusive iPhone license.
Three European companies, T-Mobile of Germany, Orange of France, and O2 UK, have agreed to pay Apple 10% of all revenues generated from iPhone calls and data functions. Revenue sharing may be a new trend in the mobile business. Operators have resisted handset manufactures’ attempts to latch onto their service revenues. But the excitement generated by platforms like the iPhone may make revenue sharing by manufactures an irresistible trend.
As the functions that mobile phones can perform increase, the companies that design and manufacture these new wonders aren’t going to be happy with simply selling devices. They are going to want a percentage the carriers make off the manufacture’s product. If this trend continues, it won’t be long before service providers and manufactures of mobile devices merge. Just imagine, the A in AT&T might one day stand for Apple.