Most of the time, when you read a story with the words “Apple”, “iPhone”, and “analyst” in the headline, it’s just more news that Apple can do no wrong. However, Walter Piecyk over at BTIG Research is proving to be the exception to that rule. He’s been making news because he just cut his rating on Apple’s shares from buy to neutral. It’s got nothing to do with Apple, though. Piecyk claims it’s the wireless carriers that are the problem.
“Subsidies by post-paid wireless operators have fueled the growth of Apple’s $600 iPhone since its inception… We expect post-paid wireless operators to remain firm in their plan to stunt the pace of phone upgrades in 2012 and we expect to see some initial evidence of their success in the current quarter.”
Piecyk is confident that post-paid wireless operators will indeed lead to a slower smartphone upgrade pace which, he believes, will result in sales of the iPhone to drop 27.5 million units in Q3. If this pans out, Apple’s revenue will be a whopping $1 billion under consensus.
This argument seems to make sense on paper, but I’m not sure if we’ll ever actually see the results Piecyk expects. He’s basically saying that iPhone sales will drop because customers won’t be able to get subsidized prices as easily as they currently can. But he must be forgetting that tons and tons of people pay the full, un-subsudized price to upgrade to every new iPhone even if they don’t have an upgrade available.
What’s more, even if a few mobile carriers change their upgrade and subsidization policies, I’m sure it won’t be every carrier. And, I don’t know about you, but I’ve known people to do some pretty crazy things for the new iPhone, so I don’t think having customers switch to a carrier with better prices is out of the question either.
What do you guys think? When the new iPhone does come out, will you let your carrier stop you from getting it, or will you do whatever it takes to get your hands on Apple’s latest toy? Let me know in the comments below or on twitter.