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New Report Shows T-Mobile Gaining Subscribers While Losing New Smartphone Sales

April 29, 2013 - Written By Joe Levin

In the most recent Kantar World Panel smartphone report that was released today, there are the usual numbers that we have come to expect from surveys like this regarding operating systems. For instance we get stats including the fact that Android and IOS run on a combined 93 percent of all smartphones in circulation. While those figures are certainly newsworthy in their own right, the real juicy details come when we get further into the weeds of this report and look at the smartphone sales by carrier in the United States.

According to the report, going from the beginning of the first quarter of 2012 until the end of Q1 2013, Sprint has gone from being slightly behind T-Mobile in the category of new smartphone sales to passing the magenta network. As it stands right now Sprint enjoys an almost three percentage point lead over T-Mobile, 12.3% to 9.5%. The big two carriers, AT&T and Verizon combine for over 65% of all new smartphone sales.

Now while a lot of people would look at this as a negative for T-Mobile but in all honesty, I just don’t see it that way. Sure the network isn’t selling as many new smartphones as they were a year ago but they have been moving away from that model the past few months.

You only have to look at the fact that T-Mobile has outpaced Sprint in new subscribers in that very same time frame to see that they are doing something correctly. Their whole “Un-Carrier” campaign is based on people bringing their own phone to use on the network as they move away from the contract model entirely. While they do offer to sell people a new phone at full price (with payments), T-Mobile’s current business model is based on people just using their data plans.

How many people do you know that bought a Nexus 4 from the Google Play Store and immediately activated it on T-Mobile? How about their whole ad campaign where they wanted to bring in iPhone users even though they themselves didn’t offer Apple’s flagship smartphone until very recently? The mere fact that they are a GSM carrier not a CDMA one like Sprint gives them a leg up on the amount of handsets that will work on their network.

Granted it is a Herculean task for either Sprint or T-Mobile to catch AT&T and Verizon but chipping away at the lead is entirely possible.

Source: Kantar World Panel