The iPhone. One of the most influential pieces of technology to ever grace us with its presence. Also, one of the most popular devices of all time. So popular, that Apple still can't keep up with demand seven months after its latest release. Not long ago, we learned that this icon will be making its way to Verizon next month. In a recent article from PCMag, Mark Hachman informs us that those who wish to purchase an iPhone from Big Red may face shortages in supply.
Many have speculated that the CDMA iPhone would eventually find its way to Sprint, too. But if Apple has trouble keeping with demand as is, why would they commit to supplying even more devices to yet another carrier?
During the last quarter, Apple sold 16.24 million iPhones and marked record growth over the previous year's final quarter. Apple CFO, Peter Oppenheimer stated, “We continue to have a sizable backlog and continue to believe we could have sold more if we could have supplied them.” I have no doubt that they would, but "would have, could have" doesn't really mean anything. Without being able to ramp up production, I don't think they can handle yet another tall order.
While a Sprint iPhone is perfectly plausible at this point, I don't see it happening anytime soon considering the issues with manufacturing that Apple is facing. If the Verizon iPhone has the impact that it is believed it will have – though undeniably lower than previous expectations – Apple will have enough on their hands. Worrying about spreading their user base is of less importance than being able to meet current demands.
That said, they still want to expand. Hachman explains how the supply constraints imply that Apple may want to experiment with other carriers, but they will likely wait until they can “reliably supply the iPhone.” To further this assessment, Tim Cook, COO at Apple, states:
“We're always looking and assessing in every country who we should be doing business with and exploring different arrangements,” and that they will "continue to do that."
Cook also says that they are working "around the clock" to get as many iPhone 4s to “existing partners.” This implies that until they can bump up production or demand slacks off, Sprint users wanting the iPhone will just have to be patient. Hachman does note:
"Apple acknowledged that it still can't make enough iPhones to meet demand, and the addition of the Verizon iPhone will simply add to the crunch. But Apple also acknowledged signing three key long-term supply contracts in a bid to smooth out its manufacturing situation."
In terms of sheer supply and demand, Apple needs to remain focused on AT&T and Verizon. I'm not convinced that the iPhone would even sell well among Sprint's Android devices though. Sprint has been pushing its WiMAX network and Android relentlessly for the past seven months. If Sprint gets the iPhone 4 or even the iPhone 5, those devices will be restricted to CDMA while their Android counterparts take full advantage of WiMAX. 4G isn't everything, but users want and expect it in upcoming phones.
None of this puts the nail in the coffin for a Sprint iPhone, but it definitely kills any hope of it happening anytime soon. What do you guys and gals think? Should Apple be giving Sprint a little iPhone love, too? Or should they hold focus on Verizon and AT&T for the time being?