Apple’s Now a Cell Phone Company, and Greed May Get the Best of Them

We’ve all seen the iPhone by now — at least we’ve seen the ads. They’re everywhere. TVthe Internet, magazines. Sheesh.

As of 3rd Q 2007, Apple‘s sold about 1.4 million of them — and each and every one of them has generated revenue for AT&T as well. That’s what Apple wants, but that’s not what they’re getting.

iPhones can only be bought from Apple or from AT&T as part of a 5-year cozy relationship between the two. Apple gets revenue off the sale of each and every iPhone, AT&T gets some of the revenue off the sale of the phones its sells, and AT&T and Apple share in the monthly revenue that comes in from each cellular contract. Piper Jaffrey analyst Gene Munster said that he believes Apple receives US$18 per iPhone per month from AT&T Wireless when people are paying our friends at AT&T each and every month for their cellular phone bill.

Problem is, not everyone is playing by Apple & AT&T’s game. Some people believe that when they buy a phone, it belongs to them. Obviously, they haven’t been paying attention to what Microsoft, Apple and others have been doing for the past few years. Turns out that you can’t buy much in the computer world any more, all you can do is get a license to use the stuff which means — that’s right — they can tell you what you can do with the software, computers and now cell phones that you buy.

About 250,000 iPhones have been purchased by individuals, modified so that they can work on other networks, and then re-sold. This means that you’re not stuck with an expensive/slow AT&T contract. If you buy one of the “unlocked” cell phones, you can easily take it to most any cell phone carrier & you’re in business.

Recent updates Apple has released for their cell phones have broken this hack. Apple has “Bricked” many of these modified cell phones through their new version of software. And they’re planning on doing it some more.

So there you have it, Apple wants its monthly revenue stream coming in from your monthly cell phone bill, and they’re going to make sure they get it. I bet you didn’t know Apple was in the cell phone provider business, did you?

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