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Apple's iPhone Exposed to Nearly 10 Million Potential Customers

Apple's iPhone Exposed to Nearly 10 Million Potential Customers

Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) popular trilogy of smartphones -- the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 -- is now available to nearly 10 million additional customers.

According to AppleInsider, the expansion is due to the merger between T-Mobile (NYSE: TMUS) and MetroPCS (NYSE: PCS). While T-Mobile began to sell all three iPhone models early last month, the merger with MetroPCS means that another nine million customers will be able to purchase an Apple smartphone.

That may not be a record-breaking number, but it is crucial to the long-term expansion of the iPhone brand. Apple has been working hard to keep up with Android manufacturers, especially Samsung, which has become the Mac maker's greatest threat.

Prior to the merger, T-Mobile had roughly 34 million subscribers. It is not yet known how many of them have purchased an iPhone since it came to the carrier.

Sprint (NYSE: S), the third-largest cellular service provider in America, has sold roughly 1.5 million iPhones every quarter for the past 15 months.

AT&T (NYSE: T), which obtained exclusive rights to the iPhone during its first few years at retail, sold more iPhones during the fall quarter than Sprint sold during an entire year. During the period, AT&T carrier activated 8.6 million iPhones.

At the same time, Verizon (NYSE: VZ) activated 6.2 million iPhones.

Sales were predictably lower in the first quarter. AT&T sold 4.8 million units, Verizon sold four million units and Sprint exceeded sales of 1.5 million units, as usual.

Virgin Mobile -- the pay-as-you-go carrier that uses Sprint's network -- has not released any iPhone sales data. Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) had temporarily pulled the Virgin Mobile version of the iPhone 4S, indicating that the device may have underperformed. The retailer began to sell it again earlier this spring.

Leap Wireless (NASDAQ: LEAP) may not be so lucky.

Leap, which owns a pre-paid carrier called Cricket, could be stuck with $100 million in unsold iPhones.

If true, the unsold phones may be due to consumers' inability to purchase a Cricket iPhone. Unlike Virgin Mobile and MetroPCS, Cricket is only available in a select number of markets.

Louis Bedigian is the Senior Tech Analyst and Features Writer of Benzinga. You can reach him at 248-636-1322 or louis(at)benzingapro(dot)com. Follow him @LouisBedigianBZ


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