Apple's iPhone is selling like hotcakes, but global carriers are struggling with the costs of subsidizing the device, according to a new report from Denmark-based research firm Strand Consult.
"According to the research we have conducted on the operators, not one of these have increased their market share, revenue, or their earnings as a result of introducing the iPhone," according to the report, which also notes that some carriers have sent out profit warnings due to the financial drain of subsidizing the iPhone.
For Apple, the iPhone continues to grow into a business that's more than capable of counteracting slowing growth in other product segments. Apple sold 5.2 million iPhones in its fiscal third quarter, compared to 717,000 during the year-ago quarter.
AT&T, Apple's exclusive iPhone carrier in the U.S., recently cited the iPhone as a welcome bright spot, although it also heavily subsidizes the device. Apple's launch in June of the iPhone 3G S led to the best sales day ever for AT&T's retail and online stores, with customers snapping up more than a million iPhones in its first weekend on the market.
In AT&T's fiscal second quarter, the carrier added 1.4 million net subscribers, including 1.2 million retail monthly bill-paying customers. AT&T also activated over 2.4 million iPhones during the quarter, and more than a third of them were new AT&T subscribers.
AT&T has been willing to take on the added operating costs of subsidizing the iPhone, but CEO Randall Stephenson hinted last month that AT&T's exclusive relationship with Apple may come to an end at some point in the not-too-distant future. For other global carriers that have been selling the iPhone and luring in new customers with its glittering lure, the clock may be about to strike midnight.