US shoppers increasingly buying iPhones from carriers instead of Apple

Posted:
in iPhone edited April 2016
A growing number of Americans are choosing to buy their iPhones from carrier outlets and websites, instead of directly from Apple's website and retail stores, recent research data indicates.




Between 2013 and 2015, the number of U.S. shoppers who bought through carriers rose from 65 percent to 76 percent, according to a Consumer Intelligence Research Partners report obtained by the Wall Street Journal. In the same timespan, Apple's share dropped from 16 percent to 11 percent.

The remaining 13 percent of 2015 iPhones were purchased through third-party retailers like Best Buy, Target, and Walmart.

Apple tends to make more profit selling through its own stores, where it can also exert more control over the shopping experience -- this includes selling people on first-party accessories, AppleCare, and/or the iPhone Upgrade Program. Perhaps more importantly for the company, shoppers in an Apple Store have less chance to compare competing smartphones.

All four major U.S. carriers, however, are now favoring monthly leases and installment plans, which can offer strong incentive to buy through them instead of Apple. They have a wider geographic reach as well, with many more retail outlets.

Carriers are even reportedly gaining ground with their share of iPad sales, which jumped from 6 percent in 2013 to 18 percent last year. Apple's share held firm at 23 percent, meaning that the carriers grew at the expense of other retailers.

The largest share of U.S. Macs -- 44 percent -- were bought through Apple, with Best Buy coming a distant second at 20 percent.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    johnnashjohnnash Posts: 128member
    I bought my last iPhone via an Apple store and I have to say the experience was a lot better than going into my carrier's store.    The customer service was beyond excellent, I had to wait a little while even though I had made an appointment and had at least 3 employees come up and update me on status for my appointment while I was there.  It wasn't a terribly long wait either.  The buying experience was very smooth and there was no hard selling at all involved.  I'll actually take the time again the next time I buy a phone to go through the Apple store just based on my experiences this time around.
    MacsAlwaysirelandjfc1138lostkiwijes42latifbp
  • Reply 2 of 29
    icoco3icoco3 Posts: 1,456member
    I other news, Apple sells a ton of iPhones through partners as well as its own store and website.
    johnnash
  • Reply 3 of 29
    Can't talk about the US market, but perhaps I can extrapolate. In the EU at least it makes more sense to opt for an iPhone with a subsidised carrier plan directly from the latter. 
  • Reply 4 of 29
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 3,752member
    Where is Consumer Intelligence Research Partners getting this data from? Apple surely isn't providing them anything. How would they know what % is Apple stores vs. carriers?
  • Reply 5 of 29
    My carrier has NEVER done anything for me except try to rob me blind while making doing business with them as hard and as costly as possible.

    As soon as my current contract with them is up, I'll be upgrading via Apple's iPhone Upgrade Program. I'll NEVER buy a phone through a carrier again, even if it's a cheaper deal than Apple offers.

    You have to earn my 
    loyalty, and none of the carriers have ever done anything to try to do that; Apple has!
    jfc1138ai46lostkiwi
  • Reply 6 of 29
    And if the customer with the iPhone from a carrier store has problems where do they go?  Ahem, the Apple Store.  Of course.

    But an iPhone sale is an iPhone sale is an iPhone sale.  Apple makes money no matter how you take it.

    Also, if more iPhones are sold in carrier stores, this means fewer competing smartphones are being sold.  So this means great news for Apple.


  • Reply 7 of 29
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member
    Um...there is no way this is true. At all.

    Apple has only increased the incentive to order/purchase directly from them over the years. There was a time that ordering from your carrier was the only way to get it and make sure something didn't get screwed up in the activation process. There was also recent times, where if you wanted to use NEXT or JUMP, you had to go through your carrier. All that has changed.

    Between Apple's own upgrade plan and financing offers, as well as their much more stable online ordering platform for launches....there is absolutely no way more people are buying through carriers today than yesterday.
    MacsAlways
  • Reply 8 of 29
    I think for some plans you have to buy the phone directly from the carrier, unfortunately.

    My mother bought a 128gb 6s from AT&T (and I was with her), and when they gave it to her the box was open and it was covered with greasy fingerprints. She hesitantly accepted it, but there was something very wrong with that phone, and they refused to replace it with a new non-defective one without charging her a "restocking fee," even though she told them that was illegal, and eventually even went beck to the store with a printout of the law prohibiting the practice. They were just horrible to her. And should they really be "restocking" a defective phone anyway? Eventually she was able to get the Apple store to replace it for her, and her new one is great, but I would definitely go well out of my way to never buy a phone directly from AT&T after that experience.
    lostkiwipalomineMacsAlways
  • Reply 9 of 29
    sessamoidsessamoid Posts: 182member
    The vast majority of U.S. Macs -- 44 percent -- were bought through Apple, with Best Buy coming a distant second at 20 percent.
    Nitpicking, but 44 percent is not a majority. They are the largest seller by volume, which makes them a "plurality".
    tokyojimudomino67lostkiwirealjustinlongpscooter63
  • Reply 10 of 29
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,770member
    Unless Apple said so. More phone(including iphone) buyers in USA may choose to buy from their Carriers because every now and than they offer BOGO promotion. Would you buy two phones if one is free ? Customer experience will always be best at Apple store. I gave up expecting good experience at carrier store.
    edited April 2016 MacsAlwaysChris46
  • Reply 11 of 29
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,976member
    My carrier has NEVER done anything for me except try to rob me blind while making doing business with them as hard and as costly as possible.

    As soon as my current contract with them is up, I'll be upgrading via Apple's iPhone Upgrade Program. I'll NEVER buy a phone through a carrier again, even if it's a cheaper deal than Apple offers.

    You have to earn my loyalty, and none of the carriers have ever done anything to try to do that; Apple has!
    How true. The only time I went into an AT&T store to buy an iPhone, they kept wanting to sell me an Android phone. I changed to Verizon and they aren't any better. I went to get a SIM card and they charged me $10 because they were only a premium retailer, not an official Verizon store even though they have Verizon all over the front of the store.

    As for the Apple store, I bought four iPhone 6s' using the iPhone Upgrade Program when it first started. My only issue was with Apple's bank not wanting to let me buy more than two. It took awhile to get ironed out but ultimately through a lot of work by the Apple employees it worked. The Apple store is busy all the time for a reason, while Best Buy and Costco don't have many customers looking at Apple products because these stores rarely have sales people who care about selling Apple products, they sell other garbage to get in their quotas.
    MacsAlways
  • Reply 12 of 29
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 1,857member
    I think for some plans you have to buy the phone directly from the carrier, unfortunately.

    My mother bought a 128gb 6s from AT&T (and I was with her), and when they gave it to her the box was open and it was covered with greasy fingerprints. She hesitantly accepted it, but there was something very wrong with that phone, and they refused to replace it with a new non-defective one without charging her a "restocking fee," even though she told them that was illegal, and eventually even went beck to the store with a printout of the law prohibiting the practice. They were just horrible to her. And should they really be "restocking" a defective phone anyway? Eventually she was able to get the Apple store to replace it for her, and her new one is great, but I would definitely go well out of my way to never buy a phone directly from AT&T after that experience.
    I agree.  Restocking means you are returning a product not replacing a defective product with a good one.  This shows the store employee is inept.  
    MacsAlwayslostkiwi
  • Reply 13 of 29
    tzeshan said:
    I think for some plans you have to buy the phone directly from the carrier, unfortunately.

    My mother bought a 128gb 6s from AT&T (and I was with her), and when they gave it to her the box was open and it was covered with greasy fingerprints. She hesitantly accepted it, but there was something very wrong with that phone, and they refused to replace it with a new non-defective one without charging her a "restocking fee," even though she told them that was illegal, and eventually even went beck to the store with a printout of the law prohibiting the practice. They were just horrible to her. And should they really be "restocking" a defective phone anyway? Eventually she was able to get the Apple store to replace it for her, and her new one is great, but I would definitely go well out of my way to never buy a phone directly from AT&T after that experience.
    I agree.  Restocking means you are returning a product not replacing a defective product with a good one.  This shows the store employee is inept.  
    Your last sentence is the very definition of carrier stores!
    latifbp
  • Reply 14 of 29
    Online is always a better experience. At least it was for me when I purchased a Windows Phone. If I were to buy Apple, there is no way I would purchase it in person. Even at the Apple Store. But that's just me. Online, through the carrier, is definitely cheaper. MVNO are even cheaper than the carriers (but not necessarily the best option). All this article tells me is that people are looking to get a deal on an iPhone they can't get, either because they can't afford or quality for the Barclay financing Apple offers, they can't pay outright, or they don't want to try to do either. You can get an old 5 from Cricket for less than $300; and that is upfront, no financing. That is definitely not the customer that this article is referring to. Your average consumer cannot afford an iPhone. People perceive it as a luxury item. Even with financing. So, if consumers are preferring carriers and their MVNO to dealing with Apple directly that would not surprise me in the least. The SE should open it up a bit more for consumers, at $399; MVNO will buy these in bulk or refurbished and try to sell them for much less, maybe $199 or less in a year or two. It will be interesting to see what analysts are saying then.

    And people do like smaller phones.  The one I'm working with right now is an old Moto E and that's a 4 1/2 inch.  I've had a 3.2 inch before it is not the end of the world.  It was actually quite handy as it disappeared in my pocket. Like I said before I'm no expert but I hate these analysts claiming that no one will buy a 4 inch phone because that simply is not true. 
    edited April 2016
  • Reply 15 of 29
    wigginwiggin Posts: 2,265member
    pmz said:
    Um...there is no way this is true. At all.

    Apple has only increased the incentive to order/purchase directly from them over the years. There was a time that ordering from your carrier was the only way to get it and make sure something didn't get screwed up in the activation process. There was also recent times, where if you wanted to use NEXT or JUMP, you had to go through your carrier. All that has changed.

    Between Apple's own upgrade plan and financing offers, as well as their much more stable online ordering platform for launches....there is absolutely no way more people are buying through carriers today than yesterday.
    The "analysis" was through 2015, but we don't know how late into 2015 it covered. And wasn't it only relatively recently that Apple really ramped up the special offers to buy from them? So perhaps effect of those offers isn't fully reflective in the analysis yet. Also, it's possible that the entire reason Apple has increased those incentives is because they are losing those sales to carrier stores, along with corresponding sales of accessories and AppleCare.
  • Reply 16 of 29
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,634member
    OMG! Sell sell sell! /s

     I bought my iPhone 6 from the carrier. I bought the 4S from Apple previoudly. Verizon had a sweet deal if I traded the 4S in. 
  • Reply 17 of 29
    And if the customer with the iPhone from a carrier store has problems where do they go?  Ahem, the Apple Store.  Of course.
    Not at all.  Bought iPhone from BestBye, got 2 sim replacements from ATT, then found lousy service and fried 3rd sim, returned phone to BestBye for full refund and contract termination without penalty because (1) ATT can't quite get its signal to my home and (2) phone was defective (kept frying sims).  A week later, I bought another iPhone from Version store. Three years later, phone is bulging, repairs will be made by 3rd party service center.  No Apple Store involvement at all.  Of course, there isn't one within 3 hours of my home anyway.
  • Reply 18 of 29
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 1,857member
    And if the customer with the iPhone from a carrier store has problems where do they go?  Ahem, the Apple Store.  Of course.
    Not at all.  Bought iPhone from BestBye, got 2 sim replacements from ATT, then found lousy service and fried 3rd sim, returned phone to BestBye for full refund and contract termination without penalty because (1) ATT can't quite get its signal to my home and (2) phone was defective (kept frying sims).  A week later, I bought another iPhone from Version store. Three years later, phone is bulging, repairs will be made by 3rd party service center.  No Apple Store involvement at all.  Of course, there isn't one within 3 hours of my home anyway.
    My iPhone became bulging after three years.  Went to Apple Store.  Replaced it with a new one free of charge.  
  • Reply 19 of 29
    Roger_FingasRoger_Fingas Posts: 119member, editor
    sog35 said:
    What a pathetic attempt to bash Apple.

    Media lie: iPhone market share is in trouble in the USA. Samsung is eating its lunch.
    Truth: iPhone is totally dominating the high end market.

    Media lie: iPhone market share at Apple stores is shrinking in the USA.
    Pathetic. Loser. Media.
    I think you're misunderstanding the data. CIRP isn't saying that iPhone sales are declining, simply that Apple is handling less of them itself. 
  • Reply 20 of 29
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,432member
    It is s-o-o-o much easier and faster to buy from Apple! Plus the iPhones sold by AT&T (and perhaps other carriers) are locked, whereas the ones direct from Apple are unlocked. And if you want the most versatile iPhone 6s model (the most cellular bands supported), it's the AT&T version--unlocked from Apple and usable with any carrier. Apple offers extended payment plans, too, which cost no more than buying out-right.
    edited April 2016 lostkiwiMacsAlways
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