Analyst: Apple gets a cut of AT&T iPhone revenue

Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster estimates that AT&T is paying Apple about $3 out of each iPhone user's monthly data plan, and more per month for new subscribers.

Apple's not just getting revenue from iPhone sales, it's also receiving a portion of the monthly fees from AT&T's iPhone data plans, according to a financial analyst.

Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray, issued a report Thursday in which he lays out his belief that Apple has a monthly revenue-sharing deal with AT&T. The report estimates that Apple is receiving $3 a month from AT&T for each iPhone user, and an additional $8 a month for new subscribers to AT&T's network lured by the iPhone.

AT&T has certainly rustled up some new business as a result of its exclusive deal with Apple. A survey conducted by Piper in the weeks after the iPhone's introduction found that 52 percent of iPhone buyers were new customers to AT&T. The wireless industry loves new customers that it can lock in for two years of service, so AT&T would probably be willing to kick Apple a portion of the $60 or more that each iPhone user spends a month with AT&T, Munster said.

The number of new subscribers will drop over time, Piper Jaffray believes, but AT&T will likely continue the revenue sharing agreement as newer iPhones are introduced. Munster cautioned that Piper is not aware of the specific details of any agreement between the two companies, but that it's estimating these numbers based on the fact that AT&T hasn't lowered the price of the iPhone through subsidies, like most other carriers do with new, expensive phones.

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    Tom Krazit writes about the ever-expanding world of Google, as the most prominent company on the Internet defends its search juggernaut while expanding into nearly anything it thinks possible. He has previously written about Apple, the traditional PC industry, and chip companies. E-mail Tom.

     

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