iSuppli Reports $173 BOM for Second Generation Apple iPhone

Apple Inc.’s second-generation iPhone is expected to carry an initial hardware Bill Of Materials (BOM) and manufacturing cost of $173, according to a preliminary “virtual teardown” conducted by iSuppli Corp. On Jun. 9, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced the release of the much-anticipated new iPhone. The new version will be available starting Jul. 11 in 22 different nations, including the United States.

In advance of the iPhone release, iSuppli has performed a virtual teardown, using insights from our analysis staff to develop estimates of iPhone content, suppliers and costs. The analysis team consisted of iSuppli’s leading experts in the areas of teardown analysis, semiconductors, displays, mobile handsets, consumer electronics and wireless infrastructure.

iSuppli had planned to withhold any analysis of iPhone content and costs until it had conducted an actual physical teardown of the product. However, due to strong popular demand for information on iPhone costs and pricing, iSuppli has decided to release a preliminary analysis to the public. Once the 3G iPhone becomes available, iSuppli will perform an actual, detailed teardown of the new iPhone’s components and cost structure.

“At a hardware BOM and manufacturing cost of $173, the new iPhone is significantly less expensive to produce than the first-generation product, despite major improvements in the product’s functionality and unique usability, due to the addition of 3G communications,” said Dr. Jagdish Rebello, director and principal analyst for iSuppli. “The original 8Gbyte iPhone carried a cost of $226 after component price reductions, giving the new product a 23 percent hardware cost reduction due to component price declines.”

The attached figure presents iSuppli’s preliminary virtual teardown estimate of the 8Gbyte 3G iPhone’s costs. The figure doesn’t include other costs, including software development, shipping and distribution, packaging, and miscellaneous accessories included with each phone.

This year’s business model
With the second-generation iPhone, Apple is making a significant departure in its pricing strategy.

“The original 2G phone was sold at an unsubsidized price of $499,” Rebello noted. “However, at a retail price of $199 for the low-end 8Gbyte version of the new 3G model, wireless communications service carriers will be selling the product at a subsidized rate, using a common business model for the mobile-handset market. The size of the subsidy paid by the wireless carriers to Apple will be about $300 per iPhone, iSuppli estimates. This means that with subsidies from carriers, Apple will be selling the 8Mbyte version of the second-generation iPhone to carriers at an effective price of about $499 per unit, the same as the original product.”

For the first version of the iPhone, Apple was given a portion of the wireless carriers’ revenue from service subscriptions. With the second-generation version, Apple is not garnering any service revenue, making it more imperative that the company cut a profit on the actual hardware through the carrier subsidies.

“Hardware is vital to Apple profits, valuation and revenue in the consumer-electronics and wireless communications realms,” Rebello said “In fact, two-thirds of Apple’s revenue from the iPod still is derived from hardware, while only one third is from the iTunes service and accessories. The second-generation iPhone is no exception.”

On the margin
Based on extensive teardown analyses of multiple products, iSuppli has observed that Apple’s iPod and iPhone products typically are priced about 50 percent more than their BOM and manufacturing costs. With the new iPhone sold at a price of $199 and the estimated subsidy of $300, Apple will achieve an even higher BOM/manufacturing margin.

Future costs
As with all electronic products, the 3G iPhone’s BOM costs will decrease over time as component prices decline. The BOM/manufacturing cost of the second-generation iPhone will decrease to $148 in 2009, down 37 percent from $173 in 2008, according to data from iSuppli’s Mobile Handset Cost Model (MHCM).

“If the 3G iPhone design is unchanged, the cost will decline to $126 in 2012″ said Tina Teng, wireless communications analyst at iSuppli.

About iSuppli Corporation
iSuppli Corporation is the global leader in technology value chain research and advisory services. iSuppli provides market intelligence services for the EMS, OEM and supplier communities in addition to servicing consumer electronics and media concerns. Services afforded by iSuppli range from electronic component research to device-specific application market forecasts, from teardown analysis to consumer electronics and from display device and systems research to multimedia content and services.