Verizon's Phone Sales Figures Reveal the iPhone Wound Is Deep

Verizon Wireless sales

The AT&T iPhone is hurting Verizon's smartphone sales badly, according to point-of-sale data at independent wireless retailers across the United States, and Android sales aren't enough to win the cash back.

This all started with the point-of-sale research from ITG Investment Research and was expanded by analyst website asymco, which suggests iPhone on AT&T is eating Verizon's lunch in the smartphone game. While Verizon's smartphone sales grew from 2.7 million to 3.3 million in Q3 of this year, which could be regarded a success, AT&T's iPhone sales alone (disregarding other smartphone devices AT&T sells) went from 2.7 million to 5.7 million for the same period. Relative to the iPhone alone, Verizon is underperforming compared to its smaller competitor.

Looking at monthly sales by smartphone manufacturer graph, above right), RIM's sales on Verizon's network have been tumbling since March this year and are now down around a third in volume. Other new manufacturers, like LG, and Palm, helped the total sales figure rise from January to August, and then there followed a serious slump that's timed to match widespread iPhone 4 availability in stores.

Meanwhile, comparing Google's great white hope, Android, to the iPhone tells another detailed story that seems to deny many a headline of recent months (and Eric Schmidt's "300,000 Android phones activated per day" spiel): Android sales at Verizon are dwarfed by AT&T's iPhone sales. By a factor of 2.5. That's an incredibly large figure, and you should remember that while Verizon is bigger than AT&T in terms of subscribers, that lead is pretty small, and that AT&T sells Android devices too. Essentially the claims that Android is overtaking the iPhone don't make sense in this context.

Whether every degree of analysis here is correct, it all makes the strong case that Verizon needs to get Apple aboard if it's to turn around sales in 2011. We understand, from rumors, that a Verizon iPhone may be en route, and we know that previous negotiations stalled because Verizon was reluctant to relinquish control to Apple. That situation may no longer be true.

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  • Huh?

    Look at the source of the data in this story - it is an analyst who cites results from "independent wireless retailers"; the fact is that the bulk of mobile phones are sold through carrier-owned stores, not independent retailers.

    This is like extrapolating the entire shoe market according to flip-flop sales at walgreens.

  • molten_tofu

    Chart on the right should be a stacked % chart, not a stacked raw value chart. Just my snarky 2 cents...

  • Joe

    AT&T is not the "smaller" competitor. Measuring a company's size based on the number of consumer customers it has seems foolish and smacks of pop news media. AT&T is almost twice as large as Verizon in terms of balance sheet. AT&T also has many more employees than Verizon.

    While Verizon appears to be the over-dog in terms of wireless cellular consumers in households, AT&T is the big dog on the block. Make no mistake about it, their worldwide presence and assets are formidable and are craftily converted into profits.

  • Tyler Gray

    Though the underlying revelations are the same, an earlier version of this story was incorrect in stating the source of information on Verizon sales. The statistics actually came from ITG's point-of-sale system at independent wireless retailers across the United States, as the story now states. Fast Company regrets the error.

  • Mike

    The figures are from Verizon US sales vrs AT&T Iphone World Sales. Add in the ROGERS/VERIZON World sales to this and the numbers will be upside down. Nice try to demish the Verizon wave. =P