The bulk of each cellular carrier’s sales come through their own stores. That’s why it seems like there is one at every corner.
But there are other important retailers, including Best Buy and Apple stores, as well as the Costcos, Walmarts and Targets of the world. The carriers, however, don’t benefit equally from each third-party store that carriers their products.
A survey from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners finds that AT&T, for example, gets 57 percent of iPhone sales at the Apple Stores, compared to 28 percent for Verizon, with the remainder going either to Sprint or unlocked devices that find their way to T-Mobile or another carrier.
Sprint, meanwhile, fares well at Best Buy, where it and Verizon both accounted for 21 percent of sales, according to the survey. Verizon, meanwhile, did best at big-box stores such as Walmart, Target and the warehouse chains.
“AT&T appears to do better than its average at Apple Stores and the Apple website, which makes sense seeing as it has offered iPhone the longest, and iPhone 5 launched in the survey period,” Consumer Intelligence Research Partners’ Michael Levin said in an email interview. “It does a little worse at Amazon. In contrast, Verizon does better at mass/warehouse retailers (Walmart, Target, etc.) and worse at Best Buy and eBay.”
The survey polled customers who activated phones between October and December, so Apple is likely overrepresented, given the iPhone 5 launch. For example, the study found Apple’s stores to be bigger than most carrier stores, including those of Sprint and T-Mobile.