iPhone closes gap on Android during May, grabs 31% of T-Mobile smartphone sales

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Following stats from comScore late last month for smartphone market share by vendor and OS, research firm Kantar Worldpanel is out today with its own numbers for the three month period ending in May. While Kantar puts Android at the same 52% of the market during May as comScore, it has Apple slightly higher at 41.9% of the market (up 3.5% from the same period last year) compared to the 39% comScore reported:

Through the 3 month period ending May 2013, Android continues to lead smartphone sales at 52%. Close behind is iOS with 41.9% of sales.

Kantar notes that Apple’s increase is thanks to T-Mobile picking up the iPhone 5, which is now the best selling smartphone at the carrier despite only being available since mid April. Thanks to iPhone, T-Mobile could soon increase its share of smartphone sales in the US, as Kantar notes all iPhone models counted for 31% of the carrier’s smartphone sales during the quarter. Currently the carrier holds just 10.1% behind Verizon (34.6%), AT&T (29%), and Sprint (12.7%).

The report notes T-Mobile has been attracting a lot of first time smartphone buyers since getting the iPhone with around 53% upgrading from feature phones: Read more

Walmart reportedly slashing iPhone 5 price indefinitely to $129 beginning Saturday

Walmart is set to dramatically cut iPhone prices starting Saturday, according to Mashable, which points to an impending iPhone hardware refresh in the coming months. Walmart will reportedly slash the already low iPhone 5 cost from $189 to $129 and the iPhone 4S will go from $89 to $39 on contract with AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon (Uncarrier T-Mobile, which Walmart doesn’t support, is not included in the deal).

Walmart isn’t the only retailer jumping on the discounted iPhone wagon. Best Buy will reportedly offer substantial discounts to iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 customers offering in-store credit or credit toward the purchase of a new iPhone. Such promotions tend to hint at upcoming hardware refreshes as retailers look to move out existing inventory. Read more

AT&T explains its new 61 cent/month administrative fee policy

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Thanks reader Kory for screenshot

AT&T started this month charging an administrative fee of $.61/month/user for its mobile customers in addition to its current fees. While the fee may be small, as the Verge notes it adds ‘up to hundreds of millions of dollars’ over 24 month contracts and millions of customers. What gives?  An AT&T spokesperson told us:

Consistent with similar fees charged by other carriers, the monthly fee of 61 cents per line will help cover certain expenses, such as interconnection and cell site rents and maintenance

The fee applies to consumer mobility lines as well as IRU lines –  the kind of business lines where the employee pays the bill directly.

AT&T isn’t alone in this endeavor. Verizon charges admin fees of $0.91 and Sprint charges $1.99.  (Plus more for regulatory fees.)  T-Mobile’s combined regulatory programs fee is $1.61.  On this basis, AT&T’s is still the lowest of all carriers.  It still sucks though. “expenses, such as interconnection and cell site rents and maintenance” seems like it should be part of the current fees and that fee is easier to raise because it isn’t part of the publicized rate plan.

Update: TheTechBlock notes that you may be able to cancel your plan because of this fee. A nice way to slip out of your subsidized plan? Read more

‘Zact’ launches customizable, no-contract data plans on Sprint, coming to iOS soon

Earlier this month we told you that Verizon-backed ItsOn, a company building software for carriers that provides users with dynamic pricing plans on mobile devices, was planning on introducing a new mobile service that takes advantage of its software. Today ItsOn has officially announced Zact, a mobile service that provides flexible, adjustable data plans that allows users to pay for only what they use, customize voice, text, and data plans in real-time at any time, and share data on an unlimited amount of devices: Read more

Verizon’s ‘ItsOn’ MVNO and AT&T’s ‘All in One’ to take on simplified billing/pre-paid space

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ItsOn, a company building software for carriers that provides users with dynamic pricing plans on mobile devices, last year announced plans to partner with one of the big U.S. carriers for its launch early this year. We’ve since learned that the carrier is likely Verizon, and that ItsOn will be launching as a consumer facing MVNO later this month (Verizon and Vodafone who both share ownership of Verizon Wireless are both investors).

There’s no word on exactly what the announcement will consist of or what the ItsOn service will include, but based on the company’s software we expect to see flexible pricing plans that, of course, run on Verizon’s robust LTE network. Despite executives expressing doubts about the service running on iOS devices in previous interviews, we also believe that an iOS version of the service is indeed coming, but at launch the service will initially be limited to other smartphones (likely Android-based). Read more

Verizon unveils 1 year “Device Payment Plan” for yearly updaters, moves full subsidies to 24 months

Verizon announced a few notable changes this week, possibly in response to T-Mobile’s new ‘Uncarrier’ pricing structure.

The first change enforces 24-month contracts and restricts subsidized upgrades during that period. Customers will no longer enjoy ‘early upgrades’ after 20-months, as was previously the policy.

While the change may disappoint customers who enjoyed upgrading their devices more frequently, Verizon told The Verge that a new “Device Payment Plan” will be accompany the policy changes.

The new payment plan allows customers to upgrade their smartphone annually by paying the upgrade fee at the register and dividing the rest of the full-retail price over 12 months. This payment plan will include a $2/month finance charge through the duration of the year.

For people like us who update annually, this option is a more pragmatic approach, especially when vendors like Gazelle (as well as others) typically pay more than the subsidized cost of a new smartphone for last year’s smartphone.

Read more