Sprint CEO: iPhone users are more loyal, use less data

Reports from the Wall Street Journal last October revealed Sprint’s Chief Executive Officer Dan Hesse convinced the company’s board to take on a staggering commitment of approximately $20 billion to purchase 30.5 million iPhones over four years. At the time, Hesse said Sprint “would likely lose money on the deal until 2014. ″ He also claimed not having the iPhone was “the No. 1 reason customers leave or switch.” In an interview with Mobile World Live (via BGR), Hesse defended the decision and claimed, among other things, that iPhone users are “more profitable than the average smartphone customer.”

 Subsidies are heavy for the iPhone. This is the reason why a high percentage of new customers is important… But iPhone customers have a lower level of churn and they actually use less data on average than a high-end 4G Android device. So from a cost point of view and a customer lifetime value perspective. They’re more profitable than the average smartphone customer.”

Hesse went on to claim that Sprint was “pulling a lot of customers” from AT&T and Verizon during the fourth quarter by noting four out of every 10 iPhones the carrier sold were new customers. According to Hesse, that is around double the rate of the other carriers.
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40 percent of Sprint’s 1.8M iPhone sales last quarter were to new customers

United States carrier Sprint, the nation’s third-largest wireless telecommunications network, announced today holiday quarter earnings containing a couple interesting tidbits related to Apple’s iPhone, which helped bring in most of its new customers. Sprint reportedly ponied up $20 billion to land Apple’s iconic smartphone last October, calling the handset launch in today’s statement “successful.”

Forty percent of Sprint’s 1.8 million iPhone sales in the fourth quarter were to new customers. 

This means some 720,000 Sprint iPhones went into the hands of new customers—once again highlighting Apple device’s proven ability to attract new consumers. Sprint only added 539,000 net additions to the postpaid base, so it would likely have lost around 200,000 customers without the iPhone in its lineup.

According to Sprint’s internal estimates, high costs associated with subsidizing the iPhone —combined with the impact of iPhone and Network Vision costs— are to blame for wider than expected short term loss, which reached an astounding $1.3 billion in Q4 2011 and $2.9 billion for 2011. These factors also reduced fourth-quarter adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortization (OIBDA) of $842 million by approximately $684 million.

Reuters reported in October 2011 that Sprint paid about 40 percent higher subsidy to Apple than the industry average, amounting to $200 more per device.

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse has some nice words for Apple’s phone:

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AT&T introducing new data plans for phones and tablets Jan. 22

AT&T announced it would introduce new data plans for phones and tablets on Sunday, Jan. 22.  There will be three phone plans: $20 for 300MB, $30 for 3GB, and $50 for 5GB with tethering. While the two tablet plans will be: $30 for 3GB and $50 for 5GB.

In the past, AT&T made available $15 for 200MB, $25 for 2GB, or $45 for 4GB with tethering. Each plan earned more data and a $5 price hike. AT&T will charge $10 for each 1GB roll over. AT&T explained the sudden change:

“Customers are using more data than ever before,” said David Christopher, chief marketing officer, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. “Our new plans are driven by this increasing demand in a highly competitive environment, and continue to deliver a great value to customers, especially as we continue our 4G LTE deployment.”

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Verizon Wireless sold 4.2M iPhones during the holiday quarter, doubling the previous

Verizon Wireless’ Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo told attendees at a conference today that Verizon sold a total 4.2 million iPhones during the holiday quarter, according to Bloomberg. Interestingly, the numbers reported by Shammo show that Verizon more than doubled iPhone sales from the previous quarter, where they sold 2 million. This sales hike was likely helped by pent up demand for the iPhone 4S, a cheaper iPhone 4, and the influx of shoppers during the holidays.  Verizon’s previous iPhone sales were said by some to be a disappointment.

Apple’s fiscal Q1 earnings call is coming up on Jan. 24, where we will hear the total number of iPhones sold during the holiday quarter. We will also hear specific numbers from Sprint and AT&T in the coming weeks. Last quarter’s total amount of iPhones sold should blow out any previous quarters with some experts putting estimates as high as 35 million.

Radio Shack to offer $30 discount on iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 starting Sunday

From 9to5Toys.com:

RadioShack is offering a $30 discount on all of their AT&T high end smartphones which obviously includes the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4, starting Sunday and running until December 17th. The sale will bring the iPhone 4S 16GB down to $170 0n contract and the iPhone 4 16GB to $70 on contract. Also, if you use Radioshack’s trade-in program you can get the phones for free and even have some extra credit left over. Head over to your local store to take advantage of this sale.

Update: Word on the street is that Target is going to give $25 back on an iPhone purchase. (Thanks commenter)

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Sprint posts new iPhone 4S ad, making its way to RadioShack this weekend, 16GB only

If you’re still trying to get your hands on the Sprint iPhone 4S, you’ve now got another outlet. According to internal documents we’ve obtained, RadioShack will be adding Apple’s latest handset to their Sprint lineup this weekend. Some stores should have stock now and many more will be getting it over the coming days. Unfortunately, if you want the 32 or 64 GB models, you may be out of luck, at least for now. According the documents we’ve seen, there is no indication that those models will be available at this time at Radio Shack.

The 16 GB model will be available in both black and white, and will be available at all stores that currently carry the iPhone, and stores that don’t typically carry the iPhone should be able to order it in. RadioShack has carried the iPhone 4 on Sprint since they started selling the 4S on Verizon and AT&T last month with a note that the Sprint 4S would be available at a later date, due to inventory issues.

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Another U.S. carrier gets set to sell iPhone 4S – for $99

In addition to the big three (AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint) as well as regional carrier C Spire which has begun selling iPhone 4S today, Apple’s new handset is now available from Claro Puerto Rico, the largest Puerto Rican telecommunications services company. The  Guaynabo, Puerto Rico-headquartered wireless operator hosts a million US customers in Puerto Rico (yes, it is a U.S. territory, U.S. dollars, U.S. citizenry) which makes it slightly bigger than C-Spire by subscribers.

Claro is the largest mobile phone network in the Americas. It is part of the Mexican telecom group América Móvil which is one of the four largest mobile phone network operators in the world, with more than 200 million customers.

What’s interesting about their offering is that Claro will be offering the 16GB iPhone 4S for just $99.99 with a standard two-year contact, quite possibly the lowest subsidized price in the United States. The 16GB/32GB version is a $199/$299 value with a two-year contract. Customers can choose between four plans costing $64.98, $74.98, $79.98 and $84.98 a month. All plans include unlimited minutes and text messages and 250MB/2GB/5GB/unlimited data.

They are also offering no-contract iPhone 4S for $669.99/$769.99/$869.99 for the 16/32/64GB version, which is a $20 premium from Apple’s online store, which began accepting orders for the unlocked iPhone 4S this morning. Claro is offering both the 16GB iPhone 4S subsidized and non-subsidized beginning today, with 32GB and 64GB capacities “coming soon”.

Claro is also offering the 8GB iPhone 4 for $49.99 ($569.99 contract-free).

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AT&T still commands a (shrinking) majority of U.S. iPhone base, says Localytics

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According to Localytics, AT&T continues to be the dominant iPhone carrier in the US, even with the Verizon entering the market strongly last year, grabbing 40% of the users in half the time.

As the 4S was launched on Sprint as well with truly unlimited data plans, one would have thought more of AT&T’s marketshare would have been diminished.  However, it appears that sprint is taking more away from Verizon.

Sprint’s share of the 4S market now stands at 12% according to the figures.  AT&T, though coverage is spotty in urban areas like New York and San Francisco, does have a significant speed advantage over Sprint and Verizon’s 3G as well as the ability to talk and use data at the same time.

Looking at iPhone 4 distribution as a comparison, Sprint seems to have eroded more of Verizon’s market share than AT&T’s – of the previous-generation handset, 60% are on AT&T versus 40% on Verizon.

A likely driver for these differences is the fact that AT&T can mine its existing base of iPhone users. Because all Verizon iPhone users are in the first year of their wireless contract, the cost of upgrading will be high. However, many longer-term AT&T users, especially those holding iPhone 3GS and earlier devices, are off-contract or nearing the end of their contract. AT&T has been aggressively leveraging the iPhone 4S to sign these customers to new two-year contracts, and the data in this study suggests that tactic may be working.

That data strongly lines up with our poll which we’ve been tracking since before the iPhone 4S launch…

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AT&T says it activated one million iPhone 4S units as of Tuesday


AT&T just issued a press release saying they activated one million iPhone 4S units, or one-quarter of the four million devices Apple sold during the launch weekend. It’s the most successful launch in AT&T’s history, the company wrote in the release:

AT&T today announced it activated more than 1 million iPhone 4S’ as of Tuesday, making it the most successful iPhone launch in the company’s history. AT&T was the first carrier in the world to launch iPhone in 2007 and is the only U.S. carrier to support iPhone 4S with 4G speeds. “It’s no surprise that customers are clamoring for iPhone 4S and they want it to run on a network that lets them download twice as fast as competitors’,” said Ralph de la Vega, President and CEO, AT&T Mobility & Consumer Markets. AT&T’s speed advantage, and the unique ability to talk and surf at the same time, has been roundly praised by industry pundits.

About those “4G speeds”…

AT&T is reportedly pushing Apple to put a “4G” cellular icon on iPhone 4S to represent its faster Internet connection, which theoretically hits 3G HSPA 14.4 Mbps speeds (lawmakers wouldn’t approve of that). The carrier also released a customer testimonial video, included above, with people explaining why they opted for an iPhone 4S on the AT&T network (hint: because it’s “super-fast”).

Taking into account September quarter earnings, iPhone 4S sales in just a few days since last Friday’s launch hit nearly one-third of the 2.7 million iPhones activated in the last quarter which was down from the 3.2 million iPhones from the year ago September 2010 quarter (which included the iPhone 4 launch).

Note that this is one million iPhone 4Ss only, excluding the newly price-reduced iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS units.

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Apple is selling almost 1,000 iPhone 4Ss/minute, setting it up to be the fastest selling gadget ever

Shawn Blanc (via The Next Web) calculated this morning that Apple is selling 16 iPhone 4Ss a second, or roughly 1,000 a minute. Blanc’s figuring comes after Apple announced this morning that there were 4 million iPhone 4Ss sold its opening three-day weekend. Figures are also expected to expand as the iPhone 4S is introduced in 22 more countries on the 24th.

Reaching this milestone, Apple is on tract to pass Microsoft’s Kinect as the fastest selling consumer device of all time. Microsoft sold 8 million Kinects in the first 60 days, a number Apple could theoretically pass in the first two weeks.

The success of the iPhone 4S is most likely helped by a few factors:

  1. The availability on three U.S. carriers: AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. AT&T and Sprint both announced opening day sales records on Friday. The iPhone 4 was only on AT&T in the US its opening day.
  2. iPhone 4 was released in 5 countries. iPhone 4S was also available in Canada and Australia in addition.
  3. iPhone 4 saw serious product shortages while it appears that Apple made plenty of iPhone 4Ss (OK, maybe not)
  4. There was a longer than normal wait time between the iPhone 4 and 4S (15 months)
  5. iPhone 4S is amazing.

We’re sure to hear more in Apple’s FYQ4 earnings call tomorrow afternoon.

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