Despite losing its exclusivity to the iPhone back in February when Apple introduced the CDMA iPhone 4 for Verizon, AT&T is still the most dominant iPhone carrier in the United States, enjoying 60% of iPhone 4 subscribers.
According to figures from Localytics, it’s also the most popular carrier for Apple’s latest iPhone, with 56% of the market versus Verizon, which holds 32%; and Sprint, which holds 12%. Even with Sprint’s offering unlimited data plans, AT&T’s market share hasn’t quite nosedived as was previously anticipated.
In fact, it appears Sprint is taking customers away from Verizon more than it is from AT&T:
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.
AT&T’s share is still diminishing, however, just not as quickly as predicted. Its 3G data speeds, which are faster than those offered by Sprint and Verizon, is thought to be one of the reasons why many customers are staying put.