One of the many mockup images of the iPhone 5 on the internet. (Photo : uber-posts.blogspot.com)
With the iPhone 5 set to make its debut to the world today, one has to consider if it'll be available for all major US mobile carriers, or will people simply find a way to unlock it.
According to FierceWireless, analysts at Jefferies & Co. think that it is "likely to top all sales records for the iconic device in the U.S. We estimate the carriers could sell 5 million iPhone 5s through pre-ordering and during the last 10 days of 3Q12 when iPhone 5 is available for sale."
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Since the original iPhone was released in June 2007, it was exclusively available for AT&T customers. This was a disappointing decision for other mobile customers but great success for AT&T. They have sold next generations of the Apple smartphone and are expected to carry the iPhone 5.
AT&T should worry though as experts believe that Verizon might take advantage of the rumored 4G LTE addition on the iPhone 5. But Wells Fargo analyst Jennifer Fritzsche said there is little reason for AT&T to be concerned. But as FierceWireless noted, Wells Fargo analyst Jennifer Fritzsche said AT&T's upgrade policy and the "high proportion of AT&T customers in family plans" will limit AT&T customer losses.
Apple started selling the iPhone with Verizon last year when the iPhone 4 launched. Jeffries & Co.'s telecom analyst Thomas Seitz stated that Verizon will be best poised to take advantage of the iPhone 5's 4G LTE capabilities. The 4G LTE has been a big rumored feature for the new smartphone.
Apple would be wise to continue their partnership with Verizon as the mobile carrier is the largest in terms of 4G networks in the US. Verizon's 4G network covers about 75 percent of the US' 370 markets, just 22 more than AT&T's availability.
For Sprint, they started carrying the iPhone in October 2011, and have offered discounts for the iPhone 4S ahead of the iPhone 5's release. Sprint started launching its first LTE market in July, and its behind AT&T and Verizon in network range.
According to Mike Merrill of Seeking Alpha, Sprint has advantages with the iPhone 5 than other carriers.
"Sprint's unlimited data plans are a hit with consumers, particularly in a tough economy, because they offer a better value. Conversely, AT&T and Verizon both ended their unlimited data plans, and both actively penalize high data users," Merrill noted.
T-Mobile, one of the four largest mobile carriers in the US, has not sold the iPhone. They don't plan on selling the iPhone 5 either. As Latinos Post reported last month, T-Mobile and Apple have not been able to form a partnership on selling their devices.
In a statement issued in 2011, T-Mobile stated the iPhone is a "good device" and have expressed interest to offer Apple devices to its customers, but they added, "Ultimately, it is Apple's decision."
T-Mobile previously stated that the issue also involves the 3G and 4G networks. As Apple is expected to introduce the iPhone 5 to the 4G market, it could leave the door open for a partnership soon.
A deal with T-Mobile will further boost Apple's sales against Samsung's Galaxy S3 which has sold more devices during the month of August than any other device, including the iPhone 4S in all major mobile carriers. However, the Samsung victory could be as people are saving money ahead of the iPhone 5 release. A deal will also help T-Mobile as more than 700,000 customers left the carrier, perhaps due to not selling the iPhone.
The iPhone 5 will launch today at 1 p.m. EDT in San Francisco.