The reason, according to Merrill Lynch analyst Sameer Chopra, is the likelihood that the latest Apple toy would chip away a sizeable cut from the mobile profit margins of local telcos such as Telstra, Optus and Vodafone.
In the case of Telstra Corporation, Australia's biggest telecommunication firm, the total hit could reach four per cent tops by December 2012, Mr Chopra told the Australian Financial Review (AFR) on Monday.
He based his estimates on previous iPhone launches in the United States, where telcos were compelled to heavily subsidise the Apple handset to attract the most subscribers.
They ended up absorbing profit hits, Mr Chopra said, as Apple is well-known not to extend too much premium on its telco partners unlike the case of Android handset manufacturers like Samsung, HTC and LG.
Margin hits could also jump depending on "how aggressive pricing and subsidies," from Aussie industry players, according to Tyndall Investment management analyst Michael Maughan.
"We expect (telcos) to be rational and to try to hold margins, but there's always that risk that someone decides to buy market share," Mr Maughan told The AFR on Monday.
Should that happens, it would be tough for Telstra to surpass or at least equal the $8.2 billion in mobile revenues it chalked up in the financial year 2011-2012 by the end of the current fiscal season, Mr Chopra said.
From those earnings, Telstra netted about 39 per cent as mobile profits, he added.
The Merrill Lynch projection is a possibility, according to Telstra chief executive David Thodey, yet he noted too that whatever risks seen by analysts as attendant to incoming gadget debuts are quite manageable.
"I think we can manage it pretty well," Mr Thodey was quoted by the Fairfax publication as saying.
If issues would indeed arise, it would be "slight increase . . . on subscriber acquisition costs," that is expected to run through financial year 2012-2013, the Telstra CEO added.
Mr Thodey also admitted that Telstra is faced with the huge challenge of retaining millions of its subscribers, with about three million set to end their existing contracts with the giant telco by the last quarter of 2012.
But the company is equally upbeat that its ongoing network upgrades, which will cover key Australian cities with the fast 4G or LTE wireless broadband access, would either convince old subscriber to renew their contracts or lure new customers seeking to avail fresh smartphones with reliable cellular connectivity, Mr Thodey said.
The 4G-LTE network build-up will cost some $500 million, Telstra said, but by its completion in the latter part of 2013, about 70 per cent of Australians will enjoy superfast access on the web, providing an edge for the telco to attract more customers from its rivals, chiefly Optus and Vodafone.
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