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US Cellular to begin selling Apple products this year

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
U.S. Cellular, the sixth-largest wireless provider in America, announced on Friday that it will begin carrying Apple products later this year.

U.S. Cellular


The announcement came in U.S. Cellular's quarterly earnings report. No specific products were mentioned, but presumably the carrier will offer Apple's iPhone as well as cellular-capable variants of the iPad, as other carriers do.

"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," U.S. Cellular Chief Executive Mary Dillon said in a statement. "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."

A big reversal



The move is a dramatic reversal for the carrier. At the end of 2011, Dillon told analysts the company had opted against carrying Apple's iPhone because of its upfront expense, describing the investment as "unacceptable from a risk and profitability standpoint."

A month later, Ted Carlson, the chief executive of U.S. Cellular's parent company TDS, revealed at the UBS GLobal Media and Communications Conference that the carrier was focused on building out its 4G LTE service first, before trying to offer the iPhone.

"We're never going to say never about the iPhone," he said. "The iPhone for us would need to be at the cutting edge of where we're going, and then there might be an opportunity to consider it."

U.S. Cellular's reversal of its no-iPhone policy in a new effort to attract new and loyal customers mirrors a similar about-face by Verizon, which once publicly announced that it had initially rejected Apple as a launch partner, similarly citing the iPhone's terms as unacceptable.

In late 2009, Verizon bet heavily on Android models as its BlackBerry smartphones began to lose their luster at the failed launch of BlackBerry's iPhone-like Storm at the end of 2008. Verizon mocked the iPhone in 2009 in an "iDon't ad" campaign and continued to assail iPhone 4 through the middle of 2010 in ads that promoted Motorola Droid X.

However, Android as a platform couldn't match the iPhone in attracting valuable customers to Verizon's network. As a result, Verizon embraced the iPad at the end of 2010 and added a CDMA version of iPhone 4 at the beginning of 2011. As a result, the company announced its largest launch ever.

Third and fourth place US carriers Sprint and T-Mobile have similarly noted to investors that their inability to carry the iPhone were their top reasons for losing customers to rival carriers. After Sprint joined Apple as a carrier, it too announced its most successful smartphone launch ever.

Entering the top five



U.S. Cellular served about 5.8 million customers in 126 markets in 26 states as of 2012, placing it behind Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and MetroPCS in terms of size. The latter two made their plans to merge official this week.

As U.S. Cellular gears up to presumably offer Apple's iPhone later this year, the company is also rolling out its own high-speed 4G LTE network. Apple's current flagship handset, the iPhone 5, offers 4G LTE compatibility.

Friday's announcement is similar to the one T-Mobile made in December, when the nation's fourth-largest carrier revealed it would begin selling "Apple products," without naming the iPhone. The iPhone 5 launched on T-Mobile last month, but there's been no mention of the carrier offering Apple's iPad.
post #2 of 10
How funny. Two years ago I begged US Cellular to get the iPhone. They kept saying that the iPhone would soon be obsolete and that their Android products were among the best phones in the world. We reluctantly switched to AT&T. Apparently we weren't the only ones to switch.

Great customer service and excellent coverage... but they didn't listen to their customers. Now they've been hemorrhaging customers and selling off some of their markets to Sprint. And now it took them two years to finally give in.
post #3 of 10

Same here.  I loved US Cellular's coverage, but switched to AT&T because of the iPhone.

 

My family would love the iPhone but need US Cellular.  

 

I think this will end well.

post #4 of 10
I'm beyond thrilled at this news. US Cellular is the best carrier in my area - stellar customer service and excellent coverage. I can't wait.
post #5 of 10

It was probably more like they couldn't afford the iPhone and was giving a BS reason to not carry it. Plus they wouldn't make as much money off the iPhone as they do the cheap android phones. 

Mac Mini (Mid 2011) 2.5 GHz Core i5

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Mac Mini (Mid 2011) 2.5 GHz Core i5

120 GB SSD/500 GB HD/8 GB RAM

AMD Radeon HD 6630M 256 MB

Reply
post #6 of 10
briancpa, it's funny how I was wondering the same thing. They turned down the offer to sell the iPhone 4S 2 years ago. What made them change their mind?
post #7 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by macm37 View Post

briancpa, it's funny how I was wondering the same thing. They turned down the offer to sell the iPhone 4S 2 years ago. What made them change their mind?

 

Have you see their earnings lately? Profits fell something like 92% over the same quarter last year.


Edited by BrianCPA - 5/3/13 at 8:45am
post #8 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianCPA View Post

How funny. Two years ago I begged US Cellular to get the iPhone. They kept saying that the iPhone would soon be obsolete and that their Android products were among the best phones in the world. We reluctantly switched to AT&T. Apparently we weren't the only ones to switch.

Great customer service and excellent coverage... but they didn't listen to their customers. Now they've been hemorrhaging customers and selling off some of their markets to Sprint. And now it took them two years to finally give in.

What are they supposed to say? Apple has to agree to allow US Cellular to have the iPhone, and might not have been able to offer it to US Cellular or Apple's terms may have been too high. 

post #9 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post

What are they supposed to say? Apple has to agree to allow US Cellular to have the iPhone, and might not have been able to offer it to US Cellular or Apple's terms may have been too high. 

 

Relax.

 

The CEO did say the terms were too high a couple years ago. What's worse though? Making a large investment in a lower-margin phone or losing nearly $60m in net income over last year?

post #10 of 10
So soon android and apple products will be sold at many stores.
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