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Carriers rebound from pandemic to top iPhone sales again

While COVID saw iPhone customers turning to online sales, carriers and their nationwide chain of retail stores have again established a hefty lead over Apple’s own stores.

Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) has previously reported that mobile carriers sell more iPhones than Apple retail stores, but now its latest figures say the margin is increasing again. It had reportedly fallen considerably over COVID, though not to a point where carriers lost their lead completely.

“For many quarters, iPhone sales shifted gradually away from mobile phone carriers’ retail operations,” says CIRP in a statement. “In the June 2023 quarter that trend reversed somewhat.”

“Online sales are still up,” it continues, “but we are witnessing a return to those tried-and-true stores.”

For June 2023 and the preceding 12 months, CIRP’s figures say that 79% of US iPhone sales were made through a carrier’s store or online service. Specifically, 52% went through a carrier’s retail store, and 27% via the carrier’s online site.

In comparison, over the same period Apple sold 11% of total US iPhone sales through its physical stores, and 6% online.

Carrier and Apple iPhone sales to June 2023 (Source: CIRP)

Carrier and Apple iPhone sales to June 2023 (Source: CIRP)

CIRP says that in the year up to June 2020, COVID meant that online sales increased. Where they are now a total of 35% of all iPhone sales in the US, in 2020 they were 50%.

The research firm notes that Apple and mobile carriers have a more level playing field with online, as each company has just one “store” online. Now that people are returning to their pre-pandemic habits, the carriers will increasingly benefit from having thousands of retail stores.

Apple is now due to launch its next new iPhone range on September 13, 2023.

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