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iPhone multipartner, Italy exception or rule?

febrero 10, 2020

The multiple operator for iPhone in Italy? An exception that addresses the particularity of the Italian market too tied to prepaid. This is the opinion expressed by Neil Mawston, head of research in the field of wireless strategies for Strategy Analyzes. Mawston elaborates his interesting, when questionable, thesis in an interview released to Macworld USA.

“The general situation in Italy – says Mawston – is different from that which characterizes other markets. In Italy about 88% of the mobile telephony business connected to prepaid cards; in other countries this percentage drops to 55%. It would have been difficult for Apple to make profits with the strategy of sharing turnover with managers ”. This particular situation would make the Italian market a one-of-a-kind with regards to the multiple operator, "an exception and not the rule", says the analyst at Strategy Analyzes.

Although the thesis is, as mentioned, interesting and worthy of being addressed, in the writer's opinion it appears questionable for several reasons.

As we know, our site for a long time believed that the multiple operator could be a possible strategy in our country and this is not due to the problem of rechargeable batteries (a problem that cannot be seen as being solved simply by having two instead of a single operator; if anything a partial solution could be in the sale of unlocked phones), as for the fact that on a global scale Apple had long seemed addressed to this strategy. Today the rumors about a multiple operator rebound from practically every corner of the world but have begun to echo long before the news of a division of the iPhone business between Vodafone and Tim in Italy.

This, of course, for countries where a contract with an operator had not yet been finalized because in countries such as, for example, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, there are, with high probability, multi-year exclusive agreements that cannot be broken. But in other countries where Apple is not yet present with the iPhone, it is much more likely that a situation similar to the Italian one will be configured, with Vodafone and at least one other national carrier competing for contracts for the iPhone, which will remain the exclusive situation. On the other hand, if Vodafone had exclusivity for the 10 (nine plus Italy) countries where iPhone will be brought, it is not clear why it should not have made it explicit. And Mawston himself seems to admit that there will be multiple operators, at least in the long run, in new countries.

On the other hand, Apple would have decided to abandon the formula of the condition of the turnover also as a result of the resistance had in many countries (and Italy was among them). Much better to increase hardware sales (perhaps catalyzing the extra cost that today ends up in the pockets of the unlocking lords by selling phones without carrier locks at slightly higher prices in the stores) by eliminating revenue sharing and landing in all countries, which remain anchored to a decidedly problematic formula, which may even prevent the landing in some nations of major importance (China above all)

If anything, the most interesting question concerns why the "multiple manager" operation started earlier in Italy than elsewhere. Macity's thesis, based on information that we believe we can believe reliable collected in recent days, has already been illustrated in several previous articles. Tim, as demonstrated by the location of the iPhone interface and the presence of the operator bundle in the firmware, had reached an agreement in principle with Apple, but the contract for the well-known contrasts on revenue sharing was probably not finalized; passed the autumn, the date hoped for the launch of the Italian iPhone, and then also the month of January / February (another possible window), which appeared close to the moment of the launch of the new iPhone, hence the slowdown and the understandable postponement of the debut upon presentation of the 3G version of the phone. This opened a window in which Vodafone was happy to slip with Apple (certainly not happy with Tim's push and pull of the past months) just as happy to keep the door open. In this way, Apple also brought Vodafone home to Italy and Vodafone has conquered a country where it has almost 30 million active lines and which in terms of potential for iPhone is worth not much less than the other nine where to sell iPhones all put together.

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