We want to stay connected while we are away from home. The main way we stay connected while away from home is through cellular enabled devices. Our main cellular enabled device is our iPhone. Most of us only own one iPhone. The iPhone we own is not always the most appropriate iPhone for every occasion.
Sometimes we want an iPhone with a larger screen and sometimes we want an iPhone that’s smaller and more convenient to carry. We could solve this problem now by owning multiple iPhones of different sizes, but that would require the SIM card to be switched out each time we wanted to change phones. This is inconvenient and sub-optimal, at best. Most people don’t even know how to switch out their SIM card!
Until the day when the whole world is blanketed in free WiFi, or until the Watch can last all day with LTE connectivity without burning your wrist, most people will carry a single iPhone with them at any one time to meet their connectivity needs. But what if we could own multiple iPhones of different sizes and seamlessly switch between them by simply picking up the most appropriate iPhone for each occasion and walking out the door? I predict this future is only one year away.
The iPhone 7 Launch
As part of the iPhone 7 launch in the Fall of 2016, Apple will announce an exclusive partnership with T-Mobile that will include a new Apple Cellular Service Plan. This will allow users to have one plan and one phone number for multiple iPhones, enabling friction-less switching between the most appropriate iPhone for each occasion. Users will not have to switch out SIM cards because each device will have its own Apple SIM Card. Best of all, the service plan will be priced close to the current cost of a single line with T-Mobile.
At the announcement, Apple will introduce the iPhone 7 lineup which will consist of revamped versions of the 4, 4.7, and 5.5 inch iPhones, as well as the reintroduction of a smaller 3.5 inch iPhone.
The Apple Cellular Service Plan, coupled with an expanded lineup of size-differentiated iPhones, will create new iPhone revenue growth as users begin to adopt a multi-iPhone life. These changes will also allow Apple to further differentiate within the iPhone lineup. In the near term, this differentiation will continue to be based on size, but in the short-to-mid term, it will be based on other features such as hardware technologies like the camera and sensors, with each varying model serving a specific use case such as photography or sensor-based research.
In the mid-to-long term, our connectivity may be unbundled from our iPhones and integrated into Watch, which would allow for further differentiation within the iPhone lineup.
The Apple Cellular Service Plan and the partnership with T-Mobile will put pressure on other service providers to offer similar service plans. Apple will use this leverage to create a Universal Apple Cellular Service Plan where iPhone users can pay one price for one plan and have access to every carrier’s cell towers. The iPhone will seamlessly transition from one carrier to the next, jumping to whichever carrier is providing the best service for each user. Users will even be able to use multiple carriers simultaneously! Revenue generated from each user’s monthly service fee will then be divided up amongst carriers depending upon how much each carrier was used by each user. This will put further pressure on carriers to upgrade their service offerings. This will do for cellular service what streaming services have done for music.
* This is just a prediction. It is based on a hunch as well as, inter alia, the following: