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AT&T's new iPhone deal



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Reuters reports that AT&T will shoulder part of the price of the 3G iPhone, from $200 to $500 per phone, according to analyst estimates. With current versions of the iPhone, the carrier pays Apple a percentage of monthly subscriber revenues, a practice that's ending.

"With dilution running at levels we never fathomed, we believe AT&T is assuming more risk than the previous arrangement," says JPMorgan analyst Michael McCormack. "We question whether a handset exclusivity agreement should warrant such a dramatic financial impact while other successful carriers have not found it necessary."

AT&T said the subsidy, aimed at boosting volume sales, will cut earnings per share by 10¢ to 12¢ in 2008 and 2009.

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Apple, on the other hand, is expected to see its earnings dip only about 3¢ a share this year, according to some estimates, as it forsakes the percentage of recurring monthly service revenue it got from AT&T's iPhone users.

Editor's note: Previously, over 50% of iPhone buyers have been customers new to AT&T. Moreover, the iPhone recently lost market share to RIM and Palm, due to more aggressive pricing and marketing.

If AT&T and Apple want to keep this gravy train rolling, then they've obviously made the right moves. How much all of this costs each player in relative terms is a pointless endeavor at this point...

What's your take?

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