Verizon Wireless Wins Summer Smartphone Sales Battle, AT&T, Sprint Decline, T-Mobile Benefits from Uncarrier Program
Verizon Wireless customers activated more than one out of three smartphones sold in the U.S. this summer, according to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech's latest consumer survey numbers.
Verizon saw its market share rise from 30.2 percent in the summer of 2012 to 37.1 percent by the end of August. While AT&T has long been known as the iPhone's top-selling wireless carrier, Verizon also surged this summer behind the Apple smartphone. According to Kantar, the iPhone accounted for 44.6 percent of the carrier's smartphone sales this summer up from 35.9 percent last year.
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Though AT&T was able to capitalize once again with the release of the new iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C—more than 3 out of 5 iPhones sold this summer were activated by the carrier—it saw its overall market share decrease year-over-year from 28.5 percent to 21.7 percent, according to Kantar. Sprint's smartphone market share also declined, falling from 20.8 to 14.6 year-over-year.
T-Mobile saw its own share increase thanks to the iPhone, which the carrier landed for the first time this summer. T-Mobile's market share increased from 12.1 percent to 13.2 percent. Previous speculation indicated that the carrier could benefit from the release of the new iPhone 5C due to the unveiling of its Uncarrier program, which allows customers to pay for the phone in full rather than sign up for a two-year contract to get a discount.
The colorful low-cost iPhone 5C was the first to come out on T-Mobile simulatenously with its rivals, offering a much closer competition between the carriers. AT&T and Verizon Wireless will certainly see some of its customers switch to T-Mobile for the carrier's flexible service plans.
"It's a much more even playing field than it was last year, when AT&T had more of an advantage," said Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics in Dedham, Massachusetts. "T-Mobile is in the right place at the right time with the right product."
"Getting a lower-cost iPhone could make a big difference for T-Mobile," Entner said.
"Assuming it is a lower-priced iPhone, it should, in theory, benefit T-Mobile more than the others," said Michael Cote, an industry strategist with the Cote Collaborative in Chicago. "If you look at the rate of people leaving AT&T for T-Mobile, the ratio is already bad, and this could exacerbate that."