updated 12:00 pm EDT, Tue June 26, 2012
Study blames discrepancy on carrier's recent debut
The Sprint version of the iPhone is selling much better at third-party vendors than it is through Apple Stores, according to a Consumer Intelligence Research Partners study. The firm polled iPhone buyers over the course of two three-month periods, and recorded that just 9 percent of shoppers in Apple Stores went with Sprint. By comparison, the ratio was 19 percent at Best Buy, and 18 percent at warehouse clubs and other mass-market retailers.
CIRP attributes the situation simply to Sprint being new to selling iPhones, having only started in October 2011. "Sprint is really suffering from being third to the dance," comments CIRP partner Michael Levin. "At the Apple Store and other carrier-agnostic retailers, there is still very little switching, and Sprint just doesn't have enough existing customers walking through the door...AT&T's installed base of iPhone customers and Verizon's huge, satisfied customer base are proving a barrier to Sprint growing its market share."
In essence, AT&T and Verizon are already well-established iPhone carriers, and people buying new iPhones are unlikely to switch to Sprint without special reason. CIRP estimates that AT&T and Verizon have a 94 percent retention rate amongst their iPhone customers. AT&T, the first-ever iPhone carrier, continues to control the greatest portion of US iPhone sales, representing 62 percent of the complete CIRP survey group. Verizon by contrast managed only 26 percent, with Sprint slotting into third at 12. Left out of the survey are any smaller regional iPhone carriers.