There’s no doubt that the iPhone is one of the most popular pieces of technology ever invented. The rush of people lining up for hours just to buy one usually causes competing carriers to trip all over themselves for the opportunity to sell the iPhone, except recently the list of carriers clamoring for the iPhone has slowly dwindled to just a few prospects.
Despite its successes, Apple is missing out on the chance to sell the iPhone to as many as 2.8 billion new smartphone customers, and according to some experts, the only thing that’s stopping them is Apple’s own rules.
Six years after the iPhone was announced, Apple is finding it harder than ever to sign up new carriers to sell the iPhone. While Apple has 240 carriers worldwide selling its products, Samsung has 800. Making matters worse, Apple’s only been able to add less than a dozen new carriers since 2011.
Part of the problem stems from the iPhone not being compatible of networks like China Mobile, but a bigger hurdle for carriers is that more carriers refuse to agree to Apple’s terms of minimum sales guarantees and the unsubsidized price of the iPhone.
China Mobile’s network has 600 million subscribers, but the iPhone can’t run on its network and many of its customers can’t afford it anyway. Japan’s NTT DoCoMo is another of the world’s largest carriers that doesn’t sell the iPhone, along with other networks in India and Russia.
According to Apple analyst Horace Dediu, Apple might need adjust its strategies to align more with the demands from operators.
“The narrative has been focused on the consumer demand, and the narrative needs to shift to the operator Apple has run out of the kinds of operators that will say yes to them.”
To meet carriers’ demands, Apple is rumored to be working on a more affordable iPhone to help the company break into the pre-paid market. With 80 percent of the global wireless market buying pre-paid cellphone service, Apple’s $600 iPhone sounds unappealing. But if Apple were to offer a cheaper iPhone, all that could change.
Even though rumors of the cheaper iPhone have heated up this year, it’s not a forgone conclusion that Apple will actually offer up a cheaper handset. With WWDC fast approaching, many believe Apple will announce a the cheaper iPhone at the WWDC keynote. But if WWDC comes and goes without nary a mention of a cheap iPhone, one thing’s for sure, Apple’s going to have to give up some of it’s strict rules if it wants to catch up with Google’s marketshare, and in the end, maybe it doesn’t.