Apple is putting operators ‘over a barrel’ with its marketing demands for the next iPhone as the industry gears up for its peak season.
A number of sources told Mobile that Apple was making changes to its marketing plans for the eagerly awaited device. One said: ‘It wants to put the onus on operators to support the iPhone.’ It is understood that the manufacturer wants greater financial support from operators for its advertising. When asked if companies would sign up to the revised terms, one source said: ‘It’s Apple; it’s a completely different beast from dealing with everybody else. It is such a large company and it gives you just enough information to scare the pants off you. Everyone is over a barrel.’
Apple was unavailable to comment on the claims. The US manufacturer is currently finalising plans for its forthcoming flagship smartphone. UK operators expect the device to feature a larger screen and improved camera. One well-placed UK source said it was working towards a September launch, although Verizon CFO Fran Shammo hinted last week that the next iPhone would be released in the fourth quarter.
While operators are keen to bolster Apple’s rivals across Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry, UK iPhone customers are proving reluctant to switch devices. Operators said that while a handful of iPhone 4 customers have chosen to upgrade to a rival device like the Samsung Galaxy S III, the overwhelming majority were holding fire until details of the new iPhone are revealed.
Operator sources told Mobile they were gearing up for the peak season, with a wave of Windows Phone 8 devices also expected to hit the market during the fourth quarter. However, a new iPhone presents a number of challenges. Operators said the possibility of it having a nano-SIM raises concerns over stock shortages.
Ensuring the right level of pricing to stay competitive and still make a margin will be critical, said one source, particularly given how operators will not make money for some time while subsidising the iPhone. Another source said: ‘I think this autumn is set to be quite a fight.’
Editor: Graeme Neill