Apple is giving all of its iPhone 4 owners the option of getting a free case for their phones, if they're particularly affected by the "Antennagate" issues.
So, how much is that going to cost?
In a note today, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster runs through the numbers.
Assuming Apple keeps the free bumper program for the duration of the iPhone 4, and Apple sells 42 million phones through the June 2011 quarter, and 85% of them are iPhone 4s, and Apple gives away a case to every single one of them, that's 36 million cases at roughly $5 cost per case, for a total cost of $178.5 million. That's 1% of Apple's operating income over that time, Munster estimates.
Assuming Apple ends the program on Sept. 30, the same assumptions over the shorter timeframe imply a cost of $40 million, Munster says.
We'd add that many existing customers probably won't even sign up for the free case, so those costs could be even lower. And it's possible not everyone will request a free case going forward, either.
So, no big deal, and totally worth it to boost consumers' confidence in buying an iPhone 4.