Analyst comments on Apple’s possible cell phone strategy

American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu has offered his thoughts on Apple’s long-rumored entry into the cell phone market. “While we firmly believe that Apple has been working on cell phone technology, we believe its much hyped imminent entry is overdone,” Wu wrote in a research note to clients today. “From our understanding, for Apple to enter the cell phone market in the USA, it needs approval from the FCC. We believe a filing would be required at least three months prior to an actual product launch.” Wu said, however, that Apple could protect the news from leaking by announcing its cell phone and then shipping three months later. “This could be similar to the Intel transition where actual product shipped seven months after the announcement,” he said.
The analyst also believes that any delay has to do with Apple taking time to figure out is its go-to-market strategy. “It could participate the traditional way by partnering with carriers like Cingular. However, we believe Apple is also exploring a vertically integrated model and user experience similar to both its iPod + iTunes and Mac businesses,” Wu said. “With an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator), Apple would have tighter control over the user experience. Moreover, we believe its 147 Apple stores would come in handy.” Wu said Apple could enter the cell phone market “as early as mid-2007, but more likely in 2008-2009.”

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