When buying an iPhone, AT&T, Verizon customers stay put

Apple Event 10/4 Tim Cook iPhones

Once an AT&T or Verizon customer, always an AT&T or Verizon customer? That seem to be true of people shopping for a new iPhone.

Consumer Intelligence Research Partners drilled down into their own most recent research data about the major U.S. carriers to find out how each wins or loses buyers looking for Apple’s smartphone. Their client report was published on Friday.

Here are some of the basics gleaned from these two matrices:


  • AT&T and Verizon keep their customers looking to buy an iPhone: on both carriers 94 percent of iPhone owners purchased through their current carrier.
  • Sprint customers looking for iPhones are slightly less loyal to the last of the big three carriers to get the iPhone — it has an 88 percent retention rate.
  • When T-Mobile customers want an iPhone, they head over to the original iPhone carrier. Sixty-five percent of their customers go to AT&T.
  • Sprint gets more new iPhone customers than the rest (16 percent) from “other” carriers, meaning regional or pre-paid carriers.
To be sure, the iPhone is the best-selling smartphone for each of the carriers, at least as of the end of the first quarter of this year. But Verizon and AT&T have obviously established themselves as the place to go for an iPhone — Sprint, as the newest of the three, hasn’t had the same amount of time to establish itself in that same manner.

But Apple, unintentionally or not, may not be giving it the same chance as the others. It’ll be interesting to see how Sprint does now that Apple is on a mission to spread the iPhone far and wide in the U.S. After making a deal to offer the iPhone 4S on C Spire last fall, in the last month Apple has announced that the iPhone will be or is available on Cricket and Virgin Mobile. Seems like good incentive to stay put, rather than move to Sprint or any other post-paid plan if it’s not necessary.


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