US Insights

"Un-carrier" T-Mobile scores a win

Dominic Sunnebo

Global Consumer Insight Director, Kantar Worldpanel

Mobile 09.30.2013 / 00:00

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iOS sales, savvy discounting boost T-Mobile to its highest share of US smartphone sales in a year

T-Mobile's share of US smartphone sales has reached its highest point yet for the past year, hitting 13.2% for the quarter ending August 2013, according to data released by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. The underdog carrier also realized quarter-over-quarter growth of 1.1 percentage points, reversing a previous trend of decline.

The sales growth has been spurred by strong iOS sales and strategic discounting. When iOS first debuted on T-Mobile in mid-April 2013, the majority of sales came from consumers upgrading from a featurephone to their first smartphone. However, looking at consumers who purchased an iPhone during the quarter ending with August, 56% came from another smartphone, including 38.5% from an Android device.

For the three-month period ending in August, the iPhone 5 remained the top-selling smartphone at T-Mobile, with 17.1% of sales. Still, the majority of phones sold on T-Mobile run Android, including the Samsung Galaxy series, and the HTC One, which saw deep discounts in August.

As part of T-Mobile's "uncarrier" strategy, smartphones are being offered at a smaller up-front cost, with the ability to pay off the rest of the phone over the next two years. The HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 both debuted at $99.99 up front, $100 less than other major carriers with a two-year contract. In August, both of these phones were offered at $0 down and saw resulting sales increases.

These discounts may have been in response to similar payment programs offered by AT&T and Verizon which debuted at the end of July and August, respectively. With these carriers once again on a level playing field, T-Mobile's ability to continue its upward trajectory will be telling.

Little movement was seen among the other operating systems in the market. In smartphone sales, Android retained its lead for the latest quarter, with a 55.1% sales share of the smartphone market; iOS followed with 39.3% sale share, an increase of 5.4% versus the same period a year ago.

Source: Kantar Worldpanel

Editor's Notes

These data are derived from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech USA's consumer panel, which is the largest continuous consumer research mobile phone panel of its kind in the world, conducting more than 240,000 interviews per year in the US alone. ComTech tracks mobile phone behavior and the customer journey, including purchasing of phones, mobile phone bills/airtime, and source of purchase and phone usage.

Journalists, to interview Dominic Sunnebo, contact us.

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