US iPhone share

No sign of weakness in US iPhone sales, with T-Mobile appearing to be purely additive. There's an obvious diminishing return at work - each new operator sells a lower share of iPhone. This is most probably due to self-selection - the people who really want an iPhone move operator to get it. 

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Annoyingly, AT&T has stopped disclosing iPhone sales, though it gave some hints. Applying those, it looks like the iPhone was a little over 50% of smartphone activations at the big 4 operators, and 40% of their contract phone activations, which is actually the more relevant metric.

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Meanwhile, contract smartphones sales are getting close to topping out. You can't sell more than 100% and the overall contract phone volume is growing very slowly. (Note that this is not adjusted for the Metro PCS acquisition.)

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iPhone USA

A quick note for reference; iPhone remains dominant in the USA market, taking over 50% of Q2 Verizon smartphone activations (and 44% of contract phone sales) . Somewhat unique, due to the US pricing structure, which tends to hide the iPhone's price premium. I'll update this with numbers from Sprint and AT&T as they report. 

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Q1 2013 US smartphone share

Numbers for the three big US operators that carry the iPhone (T-Mobile, which didn't in Q1, hasn't released the Q1 numbers yet). iPhone was 57% of smartphone activations and 49% of ALL contract phone sales. Smartphones are 86% of contract sales. 

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To be strictly precise, these numbers are a mix of 'activations' and 'sales', which are not always consistently reported. The main delta is in second-hand sales. However, these do not (yet) appear to be big enough to change these numbers much. 

US smart sales

Lots of interesting things in this chart. 

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First, Android isn't really growing at all in the USA, at least at the big two operators. ('Other smart' is almost all Android now). All the growth is coming from iPhone. 

Second, there's near-zero seasonality in Android phone sales. People decide they want a phone and go out and buy whatever's in the shop at the time that looks good. Launches of 'hero' Android phones appear to have no impact at all - they may take share from other Androids, but not from iPhone and they don't increase overall sales. 

Third, there seems to be a complete disconnect between Android and iPhone purchasing. One can understand iPhone sales per se going up in a launch quarter, but why don't Android sales go down in those quarters? It looks like a new iPhone launch doesn't tempt in Android buyers at all. 

The implication is that there is an ongoing base of sales that goes to Android, and to some extent iPhone as well, that totally ignores product launches, and just buys a phone. Then, there's a base of people who wait to buy the new iPhone (and of course come off their 24m contact in another launch quarter, eager to buy). And this latter base is getting bigger every year, and indeed driving all of the growth. 

What isn't shown in this chart, of course, is churn within the Android base: Android users moving to iPhone while new non-smart buyers shift to Android, keeping the sales steady. That's a bit more work. 


AT&T and Verizon WIreless had about 65% of US smartphone sales in Q4 2012. They're the only operators (anywhere) that reported this data. Sprint only began reporting smartphone sales in Q4, and T-Mobile USA hadn't started selling the iPhone: it had had about 9% of smartphone sales, almost all Android and growing slowly

This particular split is very US-specific: the US market's pricing structure tends to conceal the price premium of the iPhone. A chart for China, assuming one could get the data, would show very strong Android growth (though also strong iPhone growth)

US smartphones at 90% of contract sales

With Sprint, VZW and AT&T Q4 results now out, we can see that US smartphone sales were at or near 90% of contract phone sales. 

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Within that:

  • The iPhone, with 17m sold, was 65% of reported Q4 smart sales and 57% of contract sales at the big 3 US MNOs carrying it. It was about 48% of total US contract sales
  • Maybe 13m non-iPhone smartphones were sold on contract in the USA in Q4.

As an aside, this means that the US was well under 10% of global Q4 Android unit sales, versus 36% of iPhone sales.