Changing Landscape in Devices Sales Channels & Pricing Startegies in USA

Price strategies and its future for 4 major operators in N. America

  1. With a drive to eliminate subsidy and move towards EIP (Equipment Installment Plan) models following T-Mobile’s Uncarrier footsteps, major operators will focus to shift focus from “hardware” pricing to “plans” pricing. Installments with no contracts combined with ability to upgrade devices using either AT&T Next or T-Mobile Jump and so forth has levelled the playing field in terms of device availability, buying and pricing.
  2. This means the carriers with more aggressive value plans will attract more smartphone users than ever before from the rival networks though the network coverage and quality will still remain one of the crucial factors for many.
  3. CDMA carriers such as Verizon, Sprint might also start accepting BYOD (Bring Your own Device) to their network especially those models which are global world mode models and compatible to their networks. This means an opportunity for LG to build base in open and unlocked market.
  4. At the end of Q2 2015, more than 50 million subscribers in USA on the top four carriers were on EIPs:
    • AT&T: 21.0M (37% of postpaid)
    • VZW: 14.0M (13% of postpaid)
    • TMO: 11.3M (38% of postpaid)
    • SPT:  4.5M (15% of postpaid)

Among price, brand, function etc, which one is key factor for buying?

  1. Move to EIP will drive sales of premium phones sold by carriers more than before as the cost will be sucked into the monthly installment and will be mostly invisible when coupled with cheaper value plans
  2. Further, we would see ‘device leasing’ trend continue to emerge as replacement cycle is now controlled by and in the hands of consumers rather than the carriers and thus has opportunity to upgrade to a newer model faster than ever before
  3. The another trend we could see is “affordable premium” unlocked phones being launched which can work across all US carriers e.g. Moto X Pure Edition which many mature consumers would opt for
  4. The key factors which consumers look for is: design vs price as smartphone users get more mature – though this is true only for Android consumers as Apple iPhone users are more aligned to and prefer the Apple brand, design and ecosystem

With advent and growth of more cost-competitive other Asian players (e.g. Xiaomi. Asus, Alcatel, ZTE, LeTV and so forth) in US market in future, we see these brands will lower the bar for pricing of the same spec premium phone which LG or Samsung would price at roughly $100 to $200 higher

The change of market share for operators

According to our latest Q2 2015 operator share numbers, T-Mobile platform (including MetroPCS) shipped and activated more mobile phones than AT&T and now is the number 2 carrier in terms of device sales.

Shipment share


  • Apple is still immune to this trend due to availability across all the carriers, healthy home market demand, maturing Apple user base as well as selling almost all-carrier compatible ready unlocked iPhones through its own channels
  • Android brands such as LG & Samsung will have to gain stronger shelf space at T-Mobile as well as in the unlocked market to capitalize on the trend
  • LG is already showing strong momentum in prepaid segment alongside ZTE and Alcatel taking share away from Kyocera and Samsung but slower in unlocked market which could grow from 5% to 10% next year
  • Samsung is the most hurt here by losing share to almost everyone – to Apple in premium, to LG & ZTE in mid-tier and Alcatel in low-tier especially feature phones

– Neil Shah

Term of Use and Privacy Policy

Counterpoint Technology Market Research Limited


In order to access Counterpoint Technology Market Research Limited (Company or We hereafter) Web sites, you may be asked to complete a registration form. You are required to provide contact information which is used to enhance the user experience and determine whether you are a paid subscriber or not.
Personal Information When you register on we ask you for personal information. We use this information to provide you with the best advice and highest-quality service as well as with offers that we think are relevant to you. We may also contact you regarding a Web site problem or other customer service-related issues. We do not sell, share or rent personal information about you collected on Company Web sites.

How to unsubscribe and Termination

You may request to terminate your account or unsubscribe to any email subscriptions or mailing lists at any time. In accessing and using this Website, User agrees to comply with all applicable laws and agrees not to take any action that would compromise the security or viability of this Website. The Company may terminate User’s access to this Website at any time for any reason. The terms hereunder regarding Accuracy of Information and Third Party Rights shall survive termination.

Website Content and Copyright

This Website is the property of Counterpoint and is protected by international copyright law and conventions. We grant users the right to access and use the Website, so long as such use is for internal information purposes, and User does not alter, copy, disseminate, redistribute or republish any content or feature of this Website. User acknowledges that access to and use of this Website is subject to these TERMS OF USE and any expanded access or use must be approved in writing by the Company.
– Passwords are for user’s individual use
– Passwords may not be shared with others
– Users may not store documents in shared folders.
– Users may not redistribute documents to non-users unless otherwise stated in their contract terms.

Changes or Updates to the Website

The Company reserves the right to change, update or discontinue any aspect of this Website at any time without notice. Your continued use of the Website after any such change constitutes your agreement to these TERMS OF USE, as modified.
Accuracy of Information: While the information contained on this Website has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, We disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such information. User assumes sole responsibility for the use it makes of this Website to achieve his/her intended results.

Third Party Links: This Website may contain links to other third party websites, which are provided as additional resources for the convenience of Users. We do not endorse, sponsor or accept any responsibility for these third party websites, User agrees to direct any concerns relating to these third party websites to the relevant website administrator.

Cookies and Tracking

We may monitor how you use our Web sites. It is used solely for purposes of enabling us to provide you with a personalized Web site experience.
This data may also be used in the aggregate, to identify appropriate product offerings and subscription plans.
Cookies may be set in order to identify you and determine your access privileges. Cookies are simply identifiers. You have the ability to delete cookie files from your hard disk drive.