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How many $$$s does Apple make from an iPhone?

Number crunching with Apple

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Apple's figures came out on Tuesday, revealing that all is going well in Cupertino, but analysts crawling over the details are trying to work out if they reveal anything else besides - such as the revenue cut Apple is getting from every iPhone in use.

The details of the deal Apple did with AT&T, and more recently with O2, T-Mobile and Orange in Europe, are under held under the greatest secrecy, so of course everyone wants to know. We all know that the iPhone is sold at a profit, and that a percentage of subscription revenue goes to Apple for every iPhone user, but getting to the actual figures isn't easy.

iSuppli did a great job pricing up all the bits of an 8GB iPhone at $265. It's been accurate in the past, so we've no reason to dispute its figure, which puts the income from every iPhone sold at $134.

Then there's the Apple cut from the subscription charged by the operator.

We nailed our colours to the $3/$11 amount, for repeat/new subscribers respectively, calculated by analyst Gene Munster back in July. But based on Tuesday's figures Mr Munster has upped his estimate to $18 per subscriber. If true, that's $432 per customer over the two year contract, dwarfing the profit Apple makes on the hardware.

Given 1.8 million iPhones, Apple's due almost $800m over the next two years, after taking $240m on the hardware.

This goes a long way towards explaining why Apple is so keen to stop punters unlocking their handsets. Unlocked handsets don't bring in subscription revenue, though, of course, $240m isn't to be sniffed at it.

Not everyone agrees with Mr Munster's new figures. Richard Gardner from Citibank has examined the same statements from Apple and came up with $12 a month, and based on what we've heard we're sticking to the $3/$11 estimate.

Either way, it's clear that Apple has started the transition from a company selling a product to a company selling a service, while Nokia and Microsoft can only look on jealously as their own plans in that direction continue to flounder. ®

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