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A new report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) indicates that mobile carrier companies have now regained the sales percentages they lost from Apple due to the effects of the pandemic. According to the data presented by the firm, the companies are now soaring once again in iPhone sales, with Apple hitting a new low. This, nonetheless, seems to be the start of the realization of the significant role mobile carriers will play in the iPhone 15 sales in the coming months.

Carrier companies have always been the dominant channel and outlet for customers who want to buy their iPhones. However, the pandemic had a huge impact on the carriers, causing them to lose some sales, which, on the other hand, allowed Apple to gain more direct sales for its iPhone offerings.

As CIRP noted, the pandemic pushed customers to resort to online shopping, which explains why online sales reached 50% of iPhone sales during the June 2020 quarter. In 2021, the firm said that the trend caused mobile carrier US iPhone sales to drop to 66% in the June 2021 quarter, while Apple’s sales reached 27%. Unfortunately for Apple, this has now changed in the June 2023 quarter.

iPhone Sales Channel and Outlet (twelve months ended June 2023)

According to the data shared by CIRP, mobile carriers now account for 79% of iPhone sales, which is divided to 52% for retail store sales and 27% for online sales. Meanwhile, Apple drastically fell to 17%: 11% for its physical stores and 6% online. It is also worth noting that the total online sales for all channels and outlets fell to 35% this quarter.

With this significant change, CIRP believes that the customers are returning from their normal buying behaviors. “Online sales are still up, but we are witnessing a return to those tried-and-true stores,” the firm said. “As customers return to in-store shopping, the thousands of mobile carrier stores have an edge over the hundreds of Apple stores.”

This is not entirely a bad thing for Apple, nonetheless. According to a recent report from Counterpoint Research, mobile carriers will play a huge role in the sales of iPhone 15. As the research company explained, this will allow Apple to snatch the top spot for annual shipments globally for the first time ever.

“…We’re watching Q4 with interest because the iPhone 15 launch is a window for carriers to steal high-value customers,” Counterpoint Research said in the report. “And with that big iPhone 12 installed base up for grabs promos are going to be aggressive, leaving Apple in a good spot,” explained Jeff Fieldhack, Counterpoint’s Research Director for North America. “It’s the closest Apple’s been to the top spot. We’re talking about a spread that’s literally a few days’ worth of sales. Assuming Apple doesn’t run into production problems like it did last year, it’s really a toss up at this point.”


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