Mobile Carrier Stores Still Carry Retail

04/01/2015 10:50 am ET | Updated Jun 01, 2015

iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Launch Helps Apple Stores, Too

Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) released additional analysis of retail choices for US smartphone buyers.

CIRP analyzed where buyers purchased a new smartphone, both in the most recent quarter (December 2014) and in the seven quarters from April 2013-December 2014. CIRP found that mobile phone carriers continue to dominate retail sales channels, accounting for over half of smartphone sales in the most recent quarter (Chart 1) and in the past seven quarters (Chart 2).

Chart 1: Retailer Share of Smartphone Sales, October-December 2014

Chart 2: Retailer Share of Smartphone Sales, April 2013-December 2014

Despite Best Buy's wide geographic footprint, Apple stores' high profile, and Amazon's online dominance, none of these retailers accounts for more than 12 percent of total U.S. unit mobile phone sales over the past seven quarters.

Apple's retail business (Apple Stores and online sales) increased its share of total smartphone sales after the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus launch. Apple accounted for 13 percent of all smartphone sales in the December 2014 quarter, compared to a 9 percent share in the seven quarter period.

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus launch carried the Apple retail operation with it. Apple increased its overall share of U.S. smartphone sales to 13 percent in the quarter, up considerably from the 8 percent share in the first full quarter following the launch of the iPhone 5S and 5C in 2013, but down from 17 percent in the quarter following the launch of the iPhone 5 in 2012.

The revamping of the Apple Stores is necessary preparation for the launch of the Apple Watch, but also a wise response to the overall decline in Apple retail's share of U.S. smartphone and U.S. iPhone sales.

CIRP bases this analysis on seven quarterly surveys of 500 U.S. subjects who activated a mobile phone with a U.S. mobile phone carrier in the 90 days preceding the survey. For additional information, please contact CIRP.