iPhone 3G: $100 to make, $325 subsidy -- really?

iPhone 3G: $100 to make, $325 subsidy -- really?

Ben Wilson

Two suspect reports today from two different analysts would have Apple spending $100 to make each iPhone 3G and reaping a $325 subsidy on each device from the company's US wireless partner, AT&T. With a sale price of $199 for an 8GB iPhone, that would put Apple's profit at $425 per phone -- representing an obscene and highly unlikely gross profit margin.

The $325 subsidy number comes from Oppenheimer analyst Yair Reiner in a Barron's Blogs post. Carriers generally pay a maximum $200 subsidy for mobile devices, according to the report. The analyst also claims that AT&T is paying Apple an extra $100 for subscribers signed up in Apple stores, for a total commission of $425 -- really?

The $100-to-manufacture figure comes from Portelligent Inc., which doesn't even claim to be in possession of an actual iPhone 3G for tear-down analysis. "The first phone had a bill of materials estimated at $170 at launch, but the iPhone 3G could have a BOM as low as $100 when it debuts July 11" reports EE Times.

Apple doesn't break out gross margins by product in its quarterly financial reports, but the company posted a 32.9 percent overall margin in its second fiscal quarter of 2008, down from 35.1 percent in the year-ago quarter.

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