If you thought paying $299 for a 16GB iPhone 3G in White was more than just pocket change, imagine how AT&T feels, paying $325 for every iPhone 3G. At least that’s what Oppenheimer equity research analyst Yair Reiner has told clients.
Keeping in mind that carriers generally pay a maximum of $200 per handset, Reiner believes that AT&T sees the iPhone 3G as a potential blockbuster hit that will increase the No. 1 US wireless carrier’s subscriber-base and help increase ARPU (average revenue per user) through the iPhone data plans.
The higher subsidy “reflects AT&T’s faith in the iPhone’s ability to attract new subs and increase ARPU,” says Reiner. Adding that other companies, like RIM and Nokia, will have to “scramble to hit a lower, less profitable price point.”
And, as if the $325 subsidy wasn’t enough, Reiner believes AT&T to be paying Apple a $100 bounty for every iPhone 3G contract that is activated in an Apple retail store. That would put Apple’s revenue for every iPhone 3G sold through Apple stores at $425. Take in to account the rumored $100 cost to produce an iPhone, and Apple could be poised to rake in a hefty profit on each handset.
If true, it seems that Apple is taking a decidedly different approach to their revenue-sharing model that was instituted with the first-generation iPhone, while still making roughly the same revenue. Good for them.