Flagship Phones Drive Revs On Carrier Sites

phonesDespite the availability of flagship phones online, consumers are using wireless companies' Web sites to shop for deals on phones.

According to comScore Inc., flagship phones such as the iPhone, HTC G1 and BlackBerry Storm barely cracked the Top 10 models of phones sold by unit volume from their respective carriers (AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon). The Samsung Instinct, available from Sprint, only ranked 15th among unit volume sales.

"One of the fundamentals [of the data] is that online as a channel you would see a very different mix of products," Brian Jurutka, comScore vice president, tells Marketing Daily. "Generally, when you're looking online, you're looking for the best deal on something."

According to comScore, discounts and special offers continue to drive handset unit sales online. LG had the largest volume drivers on three of the top four carrier sites. A refurbished version of the LG Shine topped AT&T's volume sales, while the LV8350 was tops at Verizon and the LG Rumor was the volume leader for Sprint. (At T-Mobile, the Motorola RIZR Z3 was the volume sales leader.) The majority of those phones, according to comScore, were given away for free.



Overall, a high percentage of the phones acquired online were free--generally as an incentive to signing long-term contracts--for all four carriers. For AT&T, 75% of the phones at AT&T's site were provided for free. At T-Mobile, the percentage of free phones was 61%. For Sprint, free phones accounted for 54%, while 48% of the phones from Verizon's site were free.

"This finding underscores some of the key differences between the online and offline sales channels, thereby giving carriers a better understanding of handset market dynamics and the actionable insights needed to modify their product offerings, messaging, and user experience depending on the channel," Jurutka says.

Despite flagship phones barely cracking the Top 10 when it came to volume sales, for three of the four wireless carriers--AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon--the phones were the top revenue drivers for their respective sites. At Sprint, however, the Instinct only ranked seventh in terms of sales revenue. That may have been because of higher demand for the other phones, "or it may be the marketing message on the site that may have been highlighting another phone," Jurutka says.

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