According to a new report, 76 percent of iPhone purchases in 2015 came from carrier stores — not directly from Apple.
Consumer Intelligence Research Partners also says that in 2014, 65 percent of us bought iPhones via carriers. At carrier sales grew, Apple Store iPhone sales dropped from 16 percent to 11 percent.
The remaining sales are made up at retailers like Target or Best Buy.
Part of that is clearly buyers being thrifty; iPhone users can subsidize a device or break up the overall device cost via monthly payments to avoid buying a device outright. Apple recently started its own Upgrade Program for iPhones, which seems to be a measure to regain control.
While carriers have their place, it should be providing you service — not locking you into a pseudo-contract to pay a phone off. It makes a good bit of sense for Apple to do so, mostly because they operate the ecosystem you’re tying yourself to.
Also, Apple is much better about customer service. Ever tried to solve a problem at a carrier store? The answer you’ll get — often — is “I don’t know, you should go to the Apple Store.”
And if you have a hardware problem, carrier stores may even tell you that you need to head to a repair center — at a different carrier store.
The problem gets worse at retail stores. Though Best Buy has done a good job of setting up faux carrier stores inside its own brick and mortar, they do a terrible job of supporting customers after the sale.
In sidestepping the carrier, you also open up a new world of possibilities for your coverage. Prepaid can often save you a ton of money and get you the same benefits. One of the lone exceptions is T-Mobile’s scheme of providing music and video that doesn’t count against your data cap, but the ethics of that are in question.
And if you can get the same pay-for-a-device-monthly arrangement at Apple while putting your carrier in its place, why wouldn’t you? All I really want from them is LTE, anyway.