Is Verizon ushering in an era in which all new smartphones, even Apple’s closely guarded iPhone 6, will launch amid two for one deals? That’s the question now facing the mobile industry after Verizon made the startling move of offering two-for-one deals on Samsung’s new Galaxy S5 flagship phone during its first week on the market. Was this because the new Galaxy is seeing weaker than expected initial sales, or is Verizon simply trying to eke out stronger quarterly numbers for itself? Or does this now open the floodgates for anything-goes pricing, forcing Apple and its new iPhone 6 to participate as well?
Pricing in the smartphone market has undergone significant restructuring over the past year. While Apple launched its flagship iPhone 5S model at $199 as per usual, it placed significant emphasis on a $99 iPhone 5C at the same time. Since that time both models have gradually come down in price during the eight months they’ve been on the market. But two for one deals have still been strictly verboten by Apple, as such deals usually just result in the user sticking the second phone in a drawer in case something happens to the first, technically contributing to marketshare but doing nothing for revenue or actually growing the user base. The iPhone 6 may be the tipping point, however, at which Apple decides to simply allow carriers to do whatever they want in the name of pushing product. Partly due to the pricing flexibility they’ve been given (and often higher profit margins as well), most carriers tend to push Android phones over the iPhone when customers are unsure of what to buy. Apple could gain more favor with the carriers and help iPhone 6 marketshare in the process by giving them more deal-making flexibility.
But whether the iPhone 6 follows the Galaxy S5 in terms of two for one offers, it won’t follow it particularly soon. Apple isn’t set to reveal the new interface of the iPhone 6 until this summer, and the ship date may not come until the fall.