The market fallout from C Spire’s iPhone deal and how that will affect its competitors, large and small, remains to be seen.
Stocks for Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile closed at a loss the same day the partnership was announced. AT&T and Sprint representatives had no comment on the deal at press time.
Verizon Wireless spokeswoman Ginger Daril said that while more wireless customers are choosing their carrier based on the devices, having a successful device isn’t the final piece of the puzzle. The New Jersey-based telecom launched the iPhone 4 earlier this year and also carries iPad 1 and iPad 2. It boasts 94 million customers and a 4G LTE network to reach all of them.
“The device is only as good as the network,” Daril said. “Customers choose the network for its reliability. We are very confident in our network — the country’s largest and most reliable — and are very comfortable with other carriers carrying the iPhone 4S.”
While it’s uncertain whether or not C Spire’s facelift and iPhone deal signal a desire to grow in new markets and absorb smaller competitors, one thing is for sure. The company is paving the way for carriers of similar or smaller size to possibly capture their own iPhone contracts, contracts that were previously exclusive to the bigger telecoms.
“I was pleasantly surprised,” said Tanya Sullivan, director of the Rural Telecom Group, a Washington, D.C., advocate for wireless carriers with less than 100,000 customers. “Hopefully this opens the door to these great handsets that everyone loves.”
Sullivan said that the new precedent set by C Spire would allow other regional carriers to capture the “cool factor” of Apple while also forcing their larger competitors to stay sharp in an economy that has kept everyone guessing.