Mergers & acquisitions

Survey: Apple to Gain in AT&T/T-Mobile Merger

Amongst the handset makers, Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) may have the most stake in seeing AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s proposed acquisition of T-Mobile US Inc. approved.

Nearly 60 percent of people believe that Apple will benefit the most from the merger, according to a recent Light Reading Mobile survey of nearly 1,000 telecom professionals. Of those, 35 percent use the iPhone and 32 percent own an iPad. (See Consumers Really Do Oppose AT&T/T-Mobile and AlcaLu & Ericsson to Benefit From AT&T/T-Mobile.)

The respondents were able to select more than one answer, but no other handset maker pulled in so many votes. The next closest was High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498) with 26 percent of people indicating it will benefit from the merger.

Here's who else our respondents thought would benefit the most:

The handset makers haven’t been vocal about the merger because most count all the wireless operators as their customers. Apple, of course, was AT&T’s exclusive iPhone partner until Verizon Wireless began carrying it in February. But, come Tuesday, the next generation of the smartphone may make its way to Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) as well. (See Sprint Tiptoes Around the iPhone 5.)

If that proves true, T-Mobile will be the only one without an iPhone. Being acquired by AT&T wouldn’t give it instant access to it, but it would make the prospect much more promising. Apple would then have the Tier 1 operator market locked up with the acquisition. (See Could AT&T/T-Mobile Deal Mean an HSPA+ iPhone?)

T-Mobile was also the original champion of Android and 90 percent of its smartphone sold include the OS. If the acquisition goes through, however, AT&T customers won't be able to pick up any T-Mo Android phone (just world phones) given the incompatible frequency bands that the operators run 3G on. (See AT&T Won't Stifle T-Mobile's Phone Selection.)

But, it would give T-Mobile a Long Term Evolution (LTE) strategy, and its pick of attractive Android phones with LTE built in. HTC, Samsung and Motorola are all baking in 4G to their latest models, which could be one reason our respondents say they will benefit from the merger. (See T-Mobile Revs Android to 42 Megs.)

Right now the merger is hanging in Federal Communications Commission (FCC) limbo with motions filed for or against the combo almost on a daily basis. For the latest, check our topic page here.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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