T-Mobile USA is next on the list to carry Apple's iPhone, according to chatter overheard by Merrill Lynch analyst Scott Craig.
In a note to investors this morning, relayed by Fortune, Craig said "speculation is heightening" about T-Mobile USA parent company Deutsche Telecom announcing plans to bring Apple's iPhone to its U.S. carrier at an analyst event next week.
T-Mobile is the fourth largest carrier in the U.S. with 33 million customers, about 4 million of which would be expected to buy the device, Craig estimated. The carrier was set to be part of AT&T in a planned merger last year that was later quashed by U.S. regulators.
So far T-Mobile has taken an outsider's approach to wooing current iPhone buyers, selling nano-SIM cards that can be popped into unlocked iPhones for use on its network. That's been a not-so-sexy deal for budget smartphone shoppers, who prefer to buy the $649-plus device at a subsidized price tied to a multi-year contract.
The analyst meetings are scheduled for next Thursday and Friday, which means news of a deal might not come out until the following week.