Looks like T-Mobile won't be the only U.S. carrier that begins selling Apple hardware this year. As part of its Q1 2013 results announcement, U.S. Cellular revealed this morning that it plans to begin selling Apple devices later this year. No other details on U.S. Cellular's plans have been given. The full statement from U.S. Cellular CEO Mary Dillion is as follows:
"We have a number of strategies in progress to increase loyalty and attract more customers, including our announcement today that we will begin offering Apple products later this year. By further strengthening our device portfolio, we'll give consumers another great reason to switch to U.S. Cellular, and enable our existing customers to choose from an even wider variety of iconic smartphones, and enjoy the outstanding U.S. Cellular customer experiences they deserve. Our smartphone penetration is currently 43 percent of core market customers and growing quickly. We believe there will be strong, ongoing demand for smartphones and data products and services from our customers, and we have significant room for growth in this area."
U.S. Cellular's statement about its intent to begin selling Apple products sounds fairly similar to the one that T-Mobile gave last year. Unsurprisingly, U.S. Cellular hasn't said exactly which Apple products that it will sell, but the iPhone seems like a pretty good possibility.
U.S. Cellular has said in the past that it turned down the opportunity to sell the iPhone because the terms of the deal that Apple wanted "were unacceptable from a risk and profitability standpoint." However, now that the iPhone is available on all four major U.S. carriers as well as several smaller operators, U.S. Cellular is part of a dwindling group of carriers that doesn't offer Apple's device. Whether or not that helped push U.S. Cellular into a deal with Apple is unknown, but hey, all that really matters is that U.S. Cellular customers will finally be gaining access to Apple hardware later this year. Stay tuned for more details as we get 'em.
UPDATE: Looks like it's the iPhone. U.S. Cellular has given a statement to AllThingsD revealing that it will begin offering "iPhone products" later in 2013. The carrier also explained that the deal it's struck with Apple makes sense for it today because it now has a 4G LTE network that can "enable a successful partnership" with the Cupertino firm. U.S. Cellular's full statement:
"We will be selling iPhone products later this year. We don’t have any additional information at this time but will follow up closer to the launch. The deal we’ve made to sell iPhone products is right for our business today, because we now have an LTE solution that enables a successful partnership with Apple.”
UPDATE 2: U.S. Cellular has told The Wall Street Journal that it's agreed to buy approximately $1.2 billion worth of iPhone devices over a three-year period starting later in 2013. The carrier didn't reveal any other details about its launch plans.