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Apple’s iPhone installment plan threatens carriers’ ties to customers

Apple’s announcement Wednesday of its own iPhone installment plan, tucked toward the end of what CEO Tim Cook called a “monster roll-out,” was the big deal of the morning-after talk about smartphones, analysts said.

“If you like to have a new iPhone every single year, this is the best way to do that,” proclaimed Philip Schiller, Apple‘s head of marketing, during the Wednesday event. He spent just seconds outlining the iPhone Upgrade Program.

Customers walk into an Apple retail store after making an appointment — the program will be initially available only in the U.S., and is restricted to Apple’s brick-and-mortar outlets — select an unlocked iPhone, choose a carrier, and then pay for the device over a 24-month stretch. That phone will be covered by the AppleCare+ aftermarket warranty, which includes accidental damage coverage.

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