T-Mobile loses market share while Verizon and AT&T continue to dominate

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Kantar released their U.S. smartphone market share numbers for the 1st quarter 2013, and other than Android’s continued domination, there was some interesting news regarding carriers. It’s no surprise that the majority of smartphones are either on Verizon or AT&T. Verizon’s share is at 37.2%, while AT&T was at 27.9%. That’s a combined total of 65.1%. Sprint came in third at 12.3%, but the biggest news is T-Mobile’s decline of 3.2% down to 9.5%. In fact, T-Mobile was the only carrier to show a decline.

T-Mobile recently launched their UnCarrier plans that probably won’t change things for them since it doesn’t deliver what they are promising. The prices themselves are fine for those that bring their own phone, but the promise of buying phones off contract is simply not true. All they did was spread out the payments of the full retail price which you are obligated to pay, and is just another form of the traditional subsidized contracts that Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint offer.

source: Kantar

» See more articles by Robert Nazarian


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  • whuwhuwhu

    Financing on a phone is not a service contract. Of course you have to finish paying for the phone if you leave. But you won’t have to pay an ETF.

  • Jason Walker

    In a good faith move T-Mobile should change everyone with a year or less left to the Simple Choice plans.

    • james

      you bought a subsidize phone why would they change you from a contract to a non contract you signed a two year agreement deal with it or you can just pay the migration fee and end your contract stop being cheap trying to get over

      • Jason Walker

        I said with less than a year left. That covers the majority if not all of the subsidies. I’m not saying do it for new contacts. So no I’m not being cheap.

        • Mike

          You signed a two year agreement why should tmobile convert you can to prepaid that would not make sense and tmobile will lose money you signed the contract deal with or pay the migration fee if you have less then a year left on your contract the migration fee should be low

          • J-MOBILE E. HITE

            My *LOYAL_T-MOBILE-USA-METROPCS_CUSTOMER_OF_10YRS!!_2002–12/NOV/29TH* CONTRACT runs on 2013AUG26th, two Yrs have I bought My *HTC_SENSATION-4G__**ANDROID**__BY:_T-MOBILE_USA/METROPCS*_ on 2011AUG26th

          • Jason Walker

            No one said anything about pre-paid. I’m only talking about giving the people with 6 months left on their contract the OPTION to move to Simple Choice. If they choose not to they fulfill their contract. No loss there. If they go to Simple Choice they are still customers, no loss there either. It’s not like they are subsidizing another phone.

  • Mike

    T-Mobile didn’t lie it’s just people out there like this writer who believe in getting something for nothing if they finace you a $600+ phone t-mobile will be losing money if they allow you to just stop making payments on your phone ppl choosee to finance instead of buying it outright or paying it off early T-Mobile doesn’t force you to finance phone’s they give you a option to give you flexibility .

    • RobertNazarian

      I understand your point, but this is not how you get into the contractless game. Stop charging too much for the phone.off contract. The carriers (and I mean all carriers) need to stop with the $600 price point and start getting that price down like the Nexus 4. It doesn’t have to be as cheap as that, but do something.

      I guess they feel threatened that customers could leave at anytime and if they charge less than they lose money. The bottomline is that if carriers provide a good service, customers won’t leave.

      • Mike

        What the hell you mean tmobile needs to charge less for phones off contract the manufacturer sets the retail price not tmobile if you can’t afford to buy it outright finance it or go to sprint, Verizon, or at&t and get a 2 year service contract agreement and be ready to pay a etf and the full cost of the phone if u get a high end phone if you don’t complete the contract

        • RobertNazarian

          And that is pretty much the same deal as the other carriers. The ETF is basically the difference between the full retail and the subsidized price. Either way you’re paying for it. The one advantage with T-Mobile is that they give a better monthly rate to those that are willing to go contractless, which is the right way to do it.

          The manufacturers set their price to the carriers, but they don’t dictate what they will charge for retail. I have seen the same phone on AT&T for $599 that was $649 on Verizon. The carriers decided what they are going to charge. The carriers that offer 2-year plans really don’t want people to buy off contract. They want customers to sign a contract and that’s why those prices are jacked up.

          • Mike

            Long story short if I finance a phone for two year and decide I don’t want tmobile I can pay off my phone and leave without a etf now if I bought a subsidize phone and decide later I don’t want the service no more I’ll have to pay a etf anywhere from $200 to $350 each line and I’ll have to pay full price for esch phone I got subsidize if it’s a high end phone ppl are bashing tmobile because they want $600+ phones without a service contract for cheap either save up an put a higher down payment or pay in full and there are plenty of budget smartphones out that tmobile offers

            • doug

              I had a friend who left verizon 11 months into his contract after being unhappy with a $130+ phone bill each month problem is he got a iphone through verizon they charge him $350 etf and $550 for the iphone for not completing the contract they won’t even take the phone back so what t-mobile is doing is great no etf and when the phone is bought outright or after paying it off there’s no etf and they will unlock it for use on any gsm carrier.

            • RobertNazarian

              The ETF is the difference between what your friend paid and the retail price. What difference does it make if there is an ETF or you have remaining payments left on the retail price of the phone you financed? You friend ended up paying $480 for his phone. Where T-Mobile gets it right is the monthly payments are less so even though you pay full retail, you don’t have to pay the same price for service as those that get the subsidized plan. It irks me that Verizon won’t give me a better monthly price if I pay full retail and in effect subsidize the phone on my own. I have no problem with an ETF because in the end everyone has to pay for the phone, but don’t make people pay the same monthly rate if they are subsidizing it. That’s where T-Mobile wins.

            • ThisIsWhatIThink

              Another problem is each carrier having a different frequency, and the that only certain phones have certain frequencies. If someone wanted to carrier hop a lot, they would end up buying, or having, so many phones. I think the phones should be made to connect at all the different US frequencies so that it is easier (less difficult and expensive) to switch carriers. Then carriers wouldn’t be able to screw us all over so bad; then there would be more healthy competition. How do we get a phone maker to do that? I think it is that way in Europe, or maybe Canada, or both. It gives the consumer more options that way. Then we’d be able to buy our own phone and use it on any carrier.

  • scotts480

    Why do people have such a hard time understanding T-Mobiles new plans? Of coarse you still have to pay for the phone!! At least you have the option of paying the phone off whenever you want at which point you can sell the phone and upgrade again. No waiting two years with T-Mobile…

    • janis

      Which is fine when your regular payment gets applied as such, but when your service payment gets applied to paying off your gadget (oops?) and you accrue late fees and re-connection fees, plus an outage because of bad processing… Yeah. I’m ready to go.

  • http://twitter.com/MysteryMannnnn Mystery Man

    It’s not a contract.

  • J-MOBILE E. HITE

    Phones COST MORE than the new SURFACE NOTEBOOK By MICROSOFT & simular ones like it! They SHOULDN’T on ANY CARRIER, PERIOD!!!

  • M42

    It’s the coverage stupid! For all their misleading adds about their mythical 4G coverage and their Uncarrier plans, which still put you under a contract, they still haven’t gotten it through their thick skulls that people want coverage and not gimmicks. They are still primarily and EDGE only network and in rural areas they have no coverage at all.

    I just left them for this very reason. You can’t use your phone for business on EDGE because the data downloads are too slow, as in 37 KB. Maybe they’ll figure this out before they go bankrupt. They keep buying small carriers to boost their numbers or their net customer losses would be bigger. They’ll run out of companies to buy and then the dirty truth is going to be revealed about how for every one customer they sucker in the front door five are running out the back door.

  • http://www.callnerds.com/sacramento/ Computer Repair Sacramento

    Facebook recently released a new kind of app called Facebook Home, and the reviews are lackluster so far. But if the tech giant’s history proves to be any indicator of long-term success, this is just the beginning of a long relationship with the software… so we will see

    • J-MOBILE E. HITE

      You must have a(n) ANDROIDPHONE newer than HTC-SENSATION-4G_By:TMUS(T-Mobile_USA/MetroPCS_COMBINED

  • Twiki

    I just finished talking with T-Mobile about receiving an unexpected $200 ‘Account Migration Fee’ after upgrading my two lines to the iPhone5. I have been a T-Mobile customer for over ten years and was very upset by this. I refused to pay them and was ready to pay off the iPhones and terminate T-Mobile service if they did not issue me a new bill with the $200 charge removed. It took five different people but the final person resolved it.

    T-Mobile customer service people if you’re reading this please consider:

    IT IS A BAD BUSINESS PRACTICE TO UNEXPECTEDLY BILL YOUR CUSTOMERS LARGE AMOUNTS OF MONEY

    Especially if they’ve been with you for a long time and thought they understood the terms of the deal. I saw nothing on the iPhone upgrade purchase agreements about big fees, and yes I did actually read the contract. Very disappointed in T-Mobile today.

  • Name

    There will be a point in time where decent phones could be had unsubsidized without breaking the bank too bad. T-Mobile is planning for this and it will pay off for them eventually.

    • David Abner

      That time is pretty much already here. Just bought a Nexus 4 for $299 directly from Google, and am paying only $60 per month for service similar to what I was paying over $100 per month at Verizon. Plus, with Verizon, even if you are close to the end of your contract, but break your phone and want to cancel, it would be a $350 cancellation, or the price of an out-of-contract upgrade. I borrowed my buddies old phone for a few months until I could cancel and jump ship to a carrier that actually has a pricing structure that is fair and makes sense

  • Al

    I guess you were way off and completely wrong.