Apple denies plan to sell mobile services directly to consumers

Tue Aug 4, 2015 1:15pm EDT
 
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By Eric Auchard and Leila Abboud

FRANKFURT/PARIS (Reuters) - Apple Inc AAPL.O, the world's most profitable mobile phone maker, has denied working on a plan to market communications services directly to consumers and bypass the telecom companies on which it has long relied to sell its products.

Business Insider had on Monday reported that the iPhone maker was testing a so-called mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) service in the United States, which would involve it renting capacity from one or more network operators to sign up customers to its own phone and data plans.

The mobile phone maker is also in talks with European operators about such an arrangement, the website reported.

"We have not discussed nor do we have any plans to launch an MVNO," said an Apple spokeswoman in a statement on Tuesday.

Since it first launched the iPhone in 2007, carriers ranging from AT&T Inc T.N and Deutsche Telekom AG DTEGn.DE to China Mobile Ltd 0941.HK have been a key part of ensuring the success of Apple's move into the mobile phone business.

The carriers buy huge numbers of mobile phones from Apple, then resell them to customers who sign long-term contracts, often at a discount. Any move to sideline the carriers by going direct to consumers is therefore risky for Apple.

Apple recently reported that it sold 48 million iPhones in the quarter through June, raking in $31.4 billion in revenue, or 63 percent of its total sales.

In order to ensure maximum coverage to its customers, Apple has moved away from an early focus on exclusive deals with single operators in key markets to work with as many operators as possible.   Continued...

 
An Apple retail store is shown amid construction in San Francisco, California, July 21, 2015.  REUTERS/Robert Galbraith