FEATURE: Analysts' Perspectives: iPhone

Frost & Sullivan's Gerry Purdy and Compete's Miro Kazakoff answer our questions about the iPhone. Read Gerry's iPhone column at FierceWireless.com.

Why didn't Apple go the MVNO route? 

PURDY: Apple likely seriously considered doing an MVNO, but I think they determined rather quickly that it was better to have more control over the product and services than to bother with billing and running a wireless operator data center. Notice that while they are not a true MVNO with private labeling, they got their way to include WiFi when Cingular (now AT&T) clearly didn't want that added. As a result, Nokia backed down from the original e61 offering that included WiFi to produce the e62 without WiFi in order to get AT&T to accept the product on their network. Apple doesn't need to worry about wireless data/voice pricing plans as Apple is providing value on top of the hardware.  I think they made the right decision. And, it gives them more flexibility to migrate the iPhone to other carriers more quickly, especially in Europe and Asia Pacific.

What does AT&T get out of this deal? 

PURDY: AT&T gets to be "first." And, first gives them a head start and some great brand equity over the next six months. They become a good partner and one in which Apple may continue to offer innovative technology with new members of the iPhone family. Plus, there's clearly a side reason why AT&T was chosen over Verizon and Sprint: Apple has used the GSM radio technology in the iPhone that is used in Europe, so it will enable international roll out much faster. But, just because Apple went with AT&T first, I expect them to produce a CDMA version for Verizon and Sprint's network after the exclusivity period is over.

Who are the big losers on the carrier (MVNO) side… the handset side?

KAZAKOFF: The youth, content-oriented MNVOs  like Amp'd and Helio will have to do the most work to emphasize their unique offerings and keep the iPhone from stealing the spotlight and water cooler chatter for several months.

On the handset side, the iPhone has the potential to be the tide that lifts all boats. While the very highest-end music and smart phones may have to fight with the iPhone over the gadget lover market, the price point of the iPhone will keep it out of the reach of most shoppers. Other handset makers will hopefully experience a mass market willing to spend a little more on devices that deliver great experiences, enhanced loyalty to handset brands rather than just carriers, and a flowering of new ideas about how to enhance the usability and functionality of their own devices (in ways that don't infringe upon Apple's patents, of course).

Why EDGE over HSDPA?

KAZAKOFF: Because, as I discovered in high school, sometimes it's not what's on the inside that counts. The iPhone will attract shoppers for its great looks, interface and ability to play music and movies. Since HSDPA is not rolled out nationwide yet, providing EDGE allows Apple to deliver users a more consistent experience regardless of their location.

Will you be buying one in June, why or why not?

KAZAKOFF: No, my Nano needs a few more scratches before I'm willing to trade up. Like 38% of consumers interested in buying an iPhone said in a recent Compete survey, I'll be waiting until the price drops into the $200-300 range before purchasing one. 

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