Report: Verizon leads in U.S. smartphone sales, but T-Mobile gains

Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) bested its Tier 1 rivals in attracting the most smartphone sales between June and August, according to a new survey from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech USA.

Verizon accounted for 37.1 percent of all smartphone sales in the three months ending August, growth of 6.9 percent year over year. AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) stayed in second place with 21.7 percent of all smartphone sales, while Sprint (NYSE:S) came in third with 14.6 percent of smartphone sales during the period, the survey showed. Kantar surveys consumers on a continual basis, conducting more than 240,000 interviews per year in the United States.

Meanwhile, T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) grew its share to 13.2 percent of smartphone sales in the U.S. market in the survey period, which Kantar said was the carrier's highest share of sales during the past year. T-Mobile grew its share 1.1 percent from last year, reversing a trend of year-on-year declines, according to Kantar.

Kantar attributed T-Mobile's rise to its new no-contract Simple Choice plans, which let customers pay for their device upfront, or make a down payment and pay off the rest in monthly installments. T-Mobile, as well as the other carriers, also recently instituted a new handset upgrade program.

Sales of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone are also juicing T-Mobile's growth, Kantar said. "When iOS first debuted on T-Mobile in mid-April, the majority of sales came from consumers upgrading from a feature phone to their first smartphone," Dominic Sunnebo, Kantar Worldpanel ComTech's global strategic insight director, said in a statement. "However, looking at those who purchased an iPhone in the August period, 56 percent of those consumers came from another smartphone, including 38.5 percent from an Android device."

The iPhone 5 remained the top-selling smartphone at T-Mobile during the survey period, with 17.1 percent of sales. Still, Kantar noted that the majority of phones sold at T-Mobile run Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system. Samsung Electronics' Galaxy phones and the HTC One saw deep discounts in August at T-Mobile, Kantar noted.

And what of the launch of Apple's new iPhone 5s and 5c? As Computerworld noted, T-Mobile ranked fourth in terms of the number of new iPhones activated, behind Sprint at No. 3, Verizon at No. 2 and AT&T in the first position. The data, from Localytics, tracked activations of the iPhone 5s and 5c after the launch of the phones Sept. 20.

"With these carriers once again on a level playing field, it will be interesting to see if T-Mobile can continue its upward trajectory," Sunnebo said. 

T-Mobile executives have said the carrier will report strong third quarter results, following the impressive 1.1 million net subscriber additions T-Mobile posted in the second quarter.

For more:
- see this Kantar post
- see this separate Kantar post
- see this Electronista article
- see this Computerworld article
- see this Reuters article
- see this GigaOM article

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