More than 60 percent of current iPhone owners will remain with AT&T even when Verizon begins selling the Apple smartphone, according to a new survey. The findings contradict early fears about how the exclusive iPhone carrier could be hurt if Apple expands participating U.S. partners.
The survey by Credit Suisse found 63 percent of iPhone owners would remain with AT&T and just 23 percent (or 1.4 million) of 18 million iPhone users would jump to Verizon. Previous reports suggested AT&T could lose up to 40 percent of iPhone owners should Verizon get the nod. Verizon could begin selling a CDMA iPhone as early as January, 2011, some analysts believe. (Credit Suisse is betting on February 15,2011 for Apple to announce a Verizon iPhone. The analysis firm previously said there was a 75 percent chance AT&T would remain the exclusive iPhone provider through 2010.)
A Verizon iPhone would meet “pent up demand” within the first year of any agreement, according to the firm.
Although rumors floated that other carriers – such as Sprint or T-Mobile – could gain the iPhone earlier than Verizon, the new survey potentially dampens such excitement. Just 3 percent of iPhone owners said they would move to Sprint and only 2 percent said they would jump to T-Mobile.
Fears about the impact of any Verizon iPhone even affected AT&T’s decision-makers. Earlier this year, the carrier nearly doubled its early termination fee, a move some believed signaled concern that iPhone owners would leave in droves should a Verizon iPhone become available.
While AT&T has taken steps to answer some iPhone subscriber complaints of service, the Credit Suisse survey found twice as many iPhone owners — 18 percent — plan to leave AT&T, compared to 9 percent for all AT&T customers. Triple as many iPhone subscribers said they were also willing to break their contract, compared to the general AT&T subscriber base, the survey also determined.