Smartphone sales are an integral part of the growth figure for any carrier. With smartphones recently falling off the new data plan growth throne, losing out to smart cars, keeping numbers up on these high-margin sales is becoming increasingly difficult as it becomes increasingly important. While a win in that category doesn't exactly make a carrier the best or the biggest in a given market, it's a great indicator of how their quarterly profits may look, a fairly decent way to project total growth and, of course, comes with bragging rights. For this quarter, in the United States, at least, T-Mobile, hand in hand with their MetroPCS sub-brand, take home the new smartphone sale crown, jumping right over previous king of the hill Verizon to do so.
T-Mobile's drastic makeover under the divisive and highly charismatic John Legere, along with their undermining and eventual shakedown of the carrier market, thanks to their Uncarrier moves, has managed to take them from a mobile underdog on the verge of being sold off to the third largest carrier in the United States. With that philosophy made to power growth and retention, it's not terribly surprising to see most of the Uncarrier moves specifically targeting smartphones, one of the higher-margin areas of operations that carriers can turn to these days. By all but eliminating subsides and contracts, creating interesting and valuable new plans, and offering up the most popular devices available at all times, T-Mobile has seen steady smartphone sale growth, with their efforts meeting their climax as they reportedly overtook Verizon this quarter for the title of top smartphone sales outlet.
Samsung and Apple devices alone made up about two-thirds of T-Mobile's new phone sales for the quarter, but those same devices are offered everywhere else, meaning that T-Mobile's edge lies in their plans and pricing. While their cheaper, high-value plans are competitive for now, one lauded consumer hit that fuels massive growth for a competitor could be all it takes to torpedo T-Mobile's momentum and send them tumbling from the throne. Their claim to 23% of smartphone shipments for the quarter is nothing to sneeze at, but their lead on Verizon is by less than 1%. Meanwhile, Sprint has a new in-house ad agency to help shake things up, Verizon and AT&T have their media empires and deep pockets to turn to, and, of course, the upcoming 600MHz spectrum auction could be a huge game changer. T-Mobile has won this quarter by a nose, but the next and onward is anybody's game.