Pre-orders for Apple’s latest flagship smartphones, the iPhone 14 series, on September 7 “will unleash fierce demand among consumers who are raring to get their hands on the brand’s latest mobile technology,” according to Counterpoint Research.
The research group’s “US Channel Share Tracker” predicts that Verizon will be the U.S. carrier that sells the most iPhone 14 models. The tracker follows model-level sales by sales channel and can help provide an indication of which carrier is likely to sell the most iPhones and which carrier may lag.
Last September, when the iPhone 13 series was launched, Verizon stores were able to capture 27% of all Apple sales, followed by AT&T at 24% and T-Mobile at 21%. Historically, Verizon and AT&T have had more premium subscriber bases than T-Mobile, which helped them capture a higher share of Apple sales, according to Counterpoint Research.
However, this trend may be changing. As T-Mobile has merged with Sprint, it has seen higher uptake of its Magenta Max plan and has seen its customer base become more premium. It has also been selling the most smartphones overall among the carriers in recent quarters. With an increasingly premium subscriber base and a larger share of total phone sales, T-Mobile stores should gain a higher share of iPhone 14 sales at launch this year, says Counterpoint.
Apple sales by channel so far in 2022
In 2022 so far, Verizon stores have been able to capture the largest share of iPhone sales due to the size and premium nature of its subscriber base. But T-Mobile stores have improved their share of Apple sales, beating out AT&T stores in several months as it grows its subscriber base and offers impressive promotions to new customers, according to Counterpoint.
The research group says Apple Store’s share of iPhone sales has seen a decline in recent months due to seasonality, as the demand tends to drop during the summer leading up to the iPhone launch, especially outside of the carriers. Counterpoint predicts that the share of iPhones sold at Apple Store will jump in September with the launch of the iPhone 14, from the roughly 8% currently to as high as 15%.
As you might expect, Apple tends to prioritize inventory at its own stores where it can sell other hardware and accessories, which also boosts its sales share at launch. The postpaid carriers are expected to dominate iPhone 14 sales at launch, but if demand exceeds supply, as it often does, customers are likely to try and get their hands on the iPhone 14 wherever they can, which could help Best Buy, Walmart, Costco, Sam’s Club and other retailers.
iPhone promotions help drive sales at the carriers
Counterpoint says that another major factor that will decide which carrier wins the highest share of iPhone 14 sales will be the promotions that they have on offer at launch. While all carriers currently offer impressive promotions, there are tangible differences that will impact their iPhone 14 sales, notes the research group.
AT&T will likely continue to offer its strong promotions to both new and existing customers. Currently, AT&T is offering up to $700 off the iPhone 13. Meanwhile, T-Mobile is offering the same devices for up to $800 over 24 months of bill credits to customers who activate a new line on a qualifying plan and who trade in a qualifying device. Similarly, Verizon is offering up to $800 off the devices to switchers who have a qualifying trade-in and select a qualifying plan. Customers can expect similar promotions of between $700-$1000 off from each of the carriers, though they’ll likely need a trade-in and an unlimited plan.
Counterpoint says a “wild card” in the mix is the cable players. In the past, Xfinity, Spectrum and Altice haven’t been able to match the carriers in terms of promotions on their devices, but their promotions are improving. Another issue that the cable players faced last year were shortages. With limited supply, Apple prioritized sales to the major carriers.
The same could potentially happen this year if demand outpaces supply and if COVID-19 and China’s zero-covid policy disrupt production. While a significant portion of new subscribers at the cable players are still bringing their own device, expect the cable players to snag a higher share of iPhone 14 sales this year, says Counterpoint.