Mobile

90 Percent of AT&T iPhone Subs Still Under Contract

Published on January 28, 2011
by John Paczkowski

A metric worth mulling as AT&T’s previously monogamous relationship with Apple shifts into polyamory: 90 percent of the carrier’s iPhone users are still under contract.

That’s according to Susquehanna analyst Jeffrey Fidacaro (and AT&T, which confirmed that percentage to me), who doesn’t see the launch of the iPhone on Verizon as a catastrophic event for AT&T at all. He thinks the carrier stands to lose two million iPhone users at most to Verizon–hardly a mass exodus.

AT&T’s decision last year to accelerate upgrade eligibility for iPhone customers, making it easier for them to get the iPhone 4 when Apple released it, is proving a wise move indeed. What better deterrent to switching networks than the carrier’s $325 early termination fee?

In all likelihood, iPhone subscriber churn will be no worse at AT&T than it has been at other carriers that have lost iPhone exclusivity. As Matthew Key, CEO of Telefónica Europe, said during a February 2010 earnings call, “Ever since Vodafone has started selling the iPhone in January, we see absolutely no evidence of people leaving us, churning on the iPhone going back to Orange or Vodafone, so [we are] very comfortable with our iPhone volumes. We continue to out-trade the market and no sign of churn whatsoever.”

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