...Apple extracts more money from frequent upgraders, but as product innovation slows, people are holding on to their iPhone for three years or longer. That’s a drastic change from just four years ago, when American consumers would pony up for the newest phone after about 24 months, according to the mobile analytics firm BayStreet Research. And when Apple offers cheaper versions of the iPhone, American consumers tend to pick the more expensive option.
To make up for flat iPhone sales, Apple has simply started charging customers more money on average for newer models. Read More
...an iPhone can perform capably for years—and consumers are finally getting wise. As recently as 2015, smartphone users on average upgraded their phone roughly every 24 months, says Cliff Maldonado, founder of BayStreet Research, which tracks the mobile industry. As of the fourth quarter of last year, that had jumped to at least 35 months. “You’re looking at people holding onto their devices an extra year,” Maldonado says.
Given a long enough horizon, Apple may see a financial benefit from less frequent upgrades as well. An iPhone that lasts longer keeps customers in the iOS ecosystem longer. That becomes even more important as the company places greater emphasis not on hardware but on services like Apple Music. It also offers an important point of differentiation from Android, whose fragmented ecosystem means even flagship devices rarely continue to be fully supported beyond two years.
“In reality, the big picture is still very good for Apple,” Maldonado says. Compared with Android, “Apple’s in a better spot, because the phones last longer.” Read More
Dial Down the 5G Hype: New wireless standard will bring undeniable benefits, but significant business in 2019 isn’t likely
The problem with launching 5G phones in such a market is that they deliver an unclear value proposition—especially with limited availability of 5G networks. Most analysts don’t expect Apple to launch a 5G version of the iPhone until 2020. JPMorgan estimates that 5G phones will account for less than 1% of total global unit sales in 2019. And services such as augmented reality that would benefit greatly from 5G speeds still aren’t big draws for consumers.
As Cliff Maldonado of BayStreet Research put it, “Facebook and email won’t be any different on 5G.” Read More
The paradox is that many Apple customers think they must have the latest, trained by Apple marketing to future-proof ourselves. So this year, instead of buying a year-old iPhone 8 at a discount or an iPhone XR (a much less expensive compromise to the top iPhone XS), many customers are skipping out on an upgrade altogether. “People are looking at the R as the step-down product. Like it’s less of a smartphone,” says BayStreet’s Cliff Maldonado. Read More
Samsung is also rushing to complete development of a bendable device that it hopes will let it dominate a niche market with potential to grow. “If you think about how Samsung can differentiate itself and compete in this market, it’s with hardware,” said Cliff Maldonado, an analyst at BayStreet Research in San Francisco. “That’s what their forte is, and their foldable phone is about positioning and branding.” Read More
"Apple's iPhone XS and the iPhone XS Max arrived on Friday, but most potential iPhone buyers will hold out for the $749 iPhone XR, which launches in October, according to Cliff Maldonado, founding partner at BayStreet Research. "I think [the XR] is positioned to sell extremely well," according to Maldonado, who slated the mix of new iPhone sales to be 10-15 percent XS$999.00 at Apple Store, 20-25 percent XS Max, and 60-65 percent XR. "For the mass market, that R is going to hit the nail on the head," he said." Read More
"...wearables have slowly but surely grown into a potentially major opportunity for wireless operators to garner additional revenues from subscribers. Most of the nation's top wireless network operators sell service plans for wearables for an additional $10 per month. And that revenue stream appears set to grow. For example, BayStreet Research in May found the nation’s wireless network operators collectively are selling tens of thousands of LTE-capable Apple Watch devices every month, and the vast majority of those sales include a new line of wireless service. (Apple offers both cellular and noncellular Apple Watch options, though wireless carriers in their retail channels generally only push the cellular version.)" Read More
"Two big trends are impacting the market for smartphones: customers aren’t upgrading their phones every two years anymore, and they’re now paying much more for their top-tier devices.... First, wireless carriers are mostly unanimous in their discussion of smartphone upgrade periods: They’re getting longer and longer.... That’s a big change from the wireless industry of just a few years ago, when virtually every wireless customer upgraded without fail to a new smartphone at the end of their two-year contract. Now, thanks in part to the widespread acceptance of equipment installment plans, customers are more aware of the full cost of their smartphones and are therefore hanging onto their phones longer.... The second, and more recent, trend in the smartphone industry is the rising cost of top-tier devices.... The most expensive smartphone on the market a few years ago topped out at $700 or $800, but today some devices are as much as $1,200 or more.
But, as BayStreet pointed out, these two trends—rising smartphone prices and lengthening upgrade cycles—are essentially canceling each other out. “Between 2014 and 2018, U.S. smartphone upgrade cycles elongated from 24 to 36 months, while premium smartphone prices increased from ~$650 to ~$1,000,” the firm wrote in a recent report. “Interestingly, regardless of operating system, premium customers willing to hold onto their smartphone for three years, are on a per year basis still paying ~$325 per year.” Thus, the more things change in the smartphone market, the more they stay the same, at least for consumers.
Importantly, though, BayStreet went on to point out that this situation might create challenges for Android smartphone makers—and opportunities for Apple. Specifically, the firm explained that most Android smartphone vendors provide software updates and support for devices for around two years. Apple, on the other hand, has shown some willingness to provide software updates and support to devices more than two years old. “Thus, while Android OEMs are increasingly matching Apple’s pricing, we do not see them matching Apple’s customer care, likely leading to different price elasticity between Android and iOS,” the report said. Read More
"The lower-cost "iPhone 9" will come out later in the fall than the two other iPhones we expect to see, but it's not because of production problems, according to BayStreet Research founding partner Cliff Maldonado. "We don't think anything is wrong with the phone from a production perspective. We believe it will be delayed for marketing reasons," he said. "You're going to have the OLEDs, at the expensive price points, launching first, and the higher volume device, which is the LCD, launching later."" Read More
"Renowned Apple analyst Ming-chi Kuo... acknowledged supply chain rumors that manufacturing issues may delay mass production for the LCD iPhone. However, the flip side to his prediction was that this “iPhone 9” would arrive in time to be sold with its more expensive counterparts that have OLED displays are higher price tags. Well, Cliff Maldonado is taking the thread further. The BayStreet Research partner wrote in a note... that the LCD iPhone will not come to market until November 2. His case? Apple will allow the two OLED iPhones more time to sell, putting them up to market from around September 21." Read More
"Based on new data from BayStreet Research, the [Apple Watch Series 3] is helping create a significant opportunity for the nation’s wireless operators. Specifically, BayStreet found the nation’s wireless network operators collectively are selling tens of thousands of Apple Watch devices every month, and the vast majority of those sales include a new line of wireless service.... And though many carriers are offering a free month or three of service for the gadgets, BayStreet found that, at least so far, most Apple Watch customers are electing to pay the $10 per month to keep their watch activated. Perhaps not surprisingly, BayStreet reported that Verizon is the nation’s leading carrier retailer for smartwatches.... At Verizon, “smartwatch demand is higher, helped by stronger flagship smartphone sell-through month over month. Sales of Apple’s Watch Series 3 remain robust and continue leading the carrier. Coinciding full-month sales of its Samsung Galaxy S9s, demand for Samsung’s Gear S3 Classic and Gear S3 Frontier is also higher month over month. Verizon continues to offer devices by Fitbit and LG, although sales are nominal relative to Apple and Samsung devices."" Read More
"the global smartphone market has entered a downturn. According to market researcher Bay Street Research, the average smartphone replacement cycle has expanded by eight months from 23 months in 2014 to 31 months now. The cycle is expected to rise to hit 33 months next year. Even if new smartphones come out, innovation that can catch the eyes of people is hard to find and consumers do not feel the need to change their smartphones as smartphone quality has improved enough." Read More
"BayStreet Research... finds that while unlocked phone sales are booming in the US, the most popular handsets are from Samsung.... Samsung's $720 unlocked price for the Galaxy S9, which undercuts all US wireless carriers except T-Mobile, has boosted the unlocked share of the US market from 12 to 14 percent, said BayStreet's founding partner, Cliff Maldonado. Still, that's the biggest shift in the unlocked share of the market we've seen in a few years." Read More
"Samsung’s latest flagship, the Galaxy S9, which was launched in March, appears to be off to a relatively lackluster start. Analysts at BayStreet Research estimated that S9 preorders were down by as much as 40% compared to last year’s Galaxy S8, and the device is already seeing relatively aggressive discounts and promotions from major carriers." Read More
"BayStreet Research reported that GS9 preorders among the nationwide carriers are down 35% to 40% when compared with similar preorder sales for last year’s Samsung GS8. The firm said that, as a result, it will lower its GS9 sales forecasts to as much as 20% below the sales that Samsung generated last year via its GS8. BayStreet closely tracks the sale of smartphones in the United States." Read More
"When two-year carrier contracts were the industry standard in the US, subscribers could sign a two-year contract and get a new smartphone at what appeared to be a highly discounted rate (although later analysis found carriers sometimes recouped those costs by baking them into monthly fees). As of 2014, that cycle was so effective that US consumers were upgrading their smartphones every 23 months, according to BayStreet Research." Read More
"U.S. consumers, spurred by two-year carrier contracts and phone subsidies, were upgrading every 23 months as recently as 2014, according to BayStreet Research LLC, which tracks device sales. Now, people are holding onto their phones for an extra eight months. By next year, the time gap is estimated to widen to 33 months, BayStreet says." Read More
Sales of Google’s Pixel 2 at Verizon improved at the end of the year — albeit slightly — BayStreet finds
"After a rocky launch, Verizon has managed to juice sales of Google’s Pixel 2 so that the device is selling more briskly than it initially did at launch, according to BayStreet Research. However, the firm reported that the Pixel 2 hasn’t sold as well in the fourth quarter when compared with the same period of sales for the original Pixel after it was launched.
We have heard Google ‘pulled all the right levers’ to get the Pixel 2s better positioned with Verizon store reps,” BayStreet wrote in a recent report. The company carefully tracks sales of phones and other devices. “We believe this ranged from the aggressive discounts, improved marketing, sales rep sales contests and requirements for all sales reps and store managers to carry the devices. We view the increased traction as a considerable accomplishment and are interested to see how and if the momentum can continue going forward.” Read More
"I love(d) the Essential phone, but the product fizzled out pretty darn quick considering it was developed by the co-creator of Android, Andy Rubin. While its hardware was fantastic and its software great, Essential has reportedly struggled to sell units of the device -- one [BayStreet Research} report placed sales at just 5,000 units sold. It didn't help that Essential delayed some colors, didn't push out accessories fast enough and started by selling the phone as a Sprint exclusive. Its Black Friday price at $399 probably should have been the launch price...." Read More
"...At least one analyst believes that the somewhat maligned iPhone 8 and 8 Plus phones are selling far better than most expected. Specifically, BayStreet Research said that iPhone 8 and 8 Plus retail sales are down only 30% compared with sales of the iPhone 7 last year.
“I would have expected a much bigger decline,” said Cliff Maldonado, an analyst at BayStreet, which tracks sales of smartphones.
BayStreet reported that iPhone 8 pre-orders were down fully 60% from the iPhone 7 last year, which Maldonado said makes sense because Apple fans keen to obtain the company’s latest gadget likely would go for the iPhone X rather than the iPhone 8 with their preorders. However, Maldonado said that, when the iPhone 8 went on sale in retail stores, it enjoyed healthy sales from shoppers swinging by to grab Apple’s latest product.
“The gravitational pull from the Apple products is really strong,” Maldonado said. He also said that the 8 Plus was the most popular of the two models, with 57% of shoppers opting for the bigger phone. Read More
"According to sales tracking firm BayStreet Research, Lenovo’s Motorola sold only 10,000 Moto Z2 Force phones through AT&T since launching the device in August."
"Maldonado said that, based on BayStreet estimates, Verizon was the primary U.S. carrier vendor for Motorola’s Moto Z2 Force phone, selling around 100,000 units of the device from August to the end of October. That’s likely due to Verizon’s longtime support of Motorola products and pent-up demand among Motorola fans in Verizon’s customers base."
"Maldonado added that Sprint likely sold around 15,000 units of the phone and T-Mobile sold around 20,000 Moto Z2 Force devices from August to the end of October." Read More
"...Electronics stores saw a much bigger jump in value that same day. “They get excited,” said Cliff Maldonado, founder of BayStreet Research. “If they can get you to their site or store, it’s a great beginning process to sell you a case, a screen cover, or something else.”" Read More
"In a phone interview with MobileSyrup, Cliff Maldonado, founding partner and senior analyst at BayStreet Research, said 5,000 units sold might even be generous according to his firm’s estimations. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it was even lower,” said Maldonado.
According to the analyst, the company uses a “mosaic” approach when gathering information for its estimates that includes calling official and dealer Sprint locations and using a “mystery shopper” approach. Maldonado says his six-person team communicates with other links in the production and sales chain, as well. When it comes to securing information about purchases of the device outside of Sprint, Maldonado says information is sourced from data partners that include app developers — though, as previously mentioned, the firm is still compiling that data....
Maldonado says his firm’s estimates shouldn’t be shocking. “It’s important to understand,” said the analyst, “This phone is coming into a really difficult market.” Read More
"Essential Products has sold an estimated 5,000 phones since the gadget made its big retail debut in the United States earlier this month, according to estimates from BayStreet Research. That figure would put Essential well below market heavyweights like Apple and Samsung, which typically sell tens of millions of phones per quarter in the United States. BayStreet tracks shipments of phones and other devices across the United States." Read More
"The question for Samsung isn’t so much whether it can woo back Galaxy Note fans, but rather whether it can attract new users. Samsung has experienced multiyear declines in its U.S. share of the premium market, defined as handsets selling at $500 wholesale or more.
Three and a half years ago, Samsung had 30% of the U.S. high-end market versus Apple’s 60%, according to BayStreet Research LLC, using a 12-month rolling average. But as of June, Samsung had fallen to 22%, while Apple had grown to 73%. ”Samsung cannot change the trajectory of losing users to Apple,” said Cliff Maldonado, BayStreet Research’s senior analyst, who tracks device sales. “I don’t think they ever can turn the tide.” Read More
“It will be interesting if the Motorola brand and accompanying marketing campaign for the Moto Z2 Force, coming across all carriers, can compete more effectively in the premium tier than LG has in the last few years,” Cliff Maldonado of BayStreet Research told FierceWireless in an email. “We are cautiously optimistic for the new Motorola devices as they too still have to compete with the iPhone and an aggressive Samsung.” Read More
"Another wrinkle is that the new design is widely expected to cost a lot more--with a starting price rumored at more than $1,000. That is more in line with some of the company's MacBook computers, and it would make the new iPhone the most expensive phone ever in the U.S., according to Cliff Maldonado of BayStreet Research." Read More
"But BayStreet Research recently predicted that, partly due to the rumored delay in the new iPhone’s availability, U.S. iPhone sales will fall roughly 10% in the third quarter of this year when compared with the third quarter of last year." Read More
"BayStreet Research recently predicted that, partly due to the rumored delay in the new iPhone’s availability, U.S. iPhone sales will fall roughly 10% in the third quarter of this year when compared with the third quarter of last year."
“With the increasing likelihood of a delayed launch of the OLED variant of the three iPhones launching this fall, we have adjusted our 2H17 forecast,” BayStreet noted in a recent report, explaining that fully 40% of new flagship iPhone sales could be pushed into the fourth quarter of 2017. “We believe lost sales will be minimal as long as the delayed device launches before mid-November. However, losses could increase meaningfully if Apple were to miss the Black Friday promotion period.” Read More
"BayStreet Research said that, based on industry checks, Sprint’s Virgin Mobile could sell between 100,000 and 300,000 iPhones through its new Inner Circle online offering, which provides inexpensive iPhones coupled with a free year of unlimited service to customers who purchase the offering through the internet.
However, the firm noted that figure represents a relatively small drop in the bucket when compared with the roughly 12 million iPhones Apple sells in the U.S. market every quarter.
BayStreet said it estimates that, on average, Virgin today sells around 100,000 total phones every month via its online channels—representing around 30% of its total quarterly sales. The firm said that the new Inner Circle plan could result in sales of up to 300,000 phones during the promotion, which is scheduled to end at the end of July." Read More
"But fresh estimates from BayStreet Research indicated the Pixel may be selling at significantly higher rates.... The market research firm pegged the total number of Pixels sold since its launch at nearly 1.8 million, with 475,000 likely to be sold in the second quarter of 2017." Read More
"While Sprint is the smallest of the four major U.S. wireless network operators, the exclusive deal could provide a lift to both the carrier and the handset vendor, according to Cliff Maldonado of BayStreet Research.
“I think carrier distribution certainly helps the Essential phone’s prospects; without carrier support the phone would easily be forgotten,” Maldonado said via email. “Sprint actually sells more postpaid Android devices than AT&T and is the 3rd largest postpaid Android carrier in the U.S. With Verizon securing the exclusive on the Pixel, the Essential phone offers Sprint a similar subscriber switching opportunity. All in all, I like the move from Sprint’s perception and am interested to see what international benefits working closely with SoftBank can bring the Essential phone.” Read More
"The Phone will be sold directly to consumers, but, according to BayStreet Research, more than 92% of U.S. phone buyers today buy their device through their mobile carrier, so Rubin might have a tough task getting the masses to buy in." Read More
"BayStreet Research has been looking at US sales (reports Fierce Wireless). Although the Galaxy S8 family has not had as much success as in South Korea, overall handset sales are broadly similar year-on year. The research does note that Sprint has seen a thirty percent increase in sales of the S8 and S8 plus, compared to a drop for T-Mobile and no growth on AT&T or Verizon - given that Sprint was the only carrier to offer a significant promotion with the Android flagship." Read More
“While we were expecting slightly more aggressive GS8 promotions y/y, T-Mobile preferred to remain on the sidelines, allowing AT&T & Verizon to offer relatively weaker GS8 launch promotions vs last year,” said the research firm." Read More
"Samsung’s newest flagship Android smartphone, the Galaxy S8, isn’t receiving the same amount of love from the nation’s wireless carriers that the device’s predecessor did. According to new data from BayStreet Research, Sprint was the only major wireless carrier to promote the device with significant discounts.
“While we were expecting slightly more aggressive GS8 promotions y/y, T-Mobile preferred to remain on the sidelines, allowing AT&T & Verizon to offer relatively weaker GS8 launch promotions vs last year,” BayStreet wrote in a recent note to subscribers. “Last year, all carriers quickly matched T-Mobile's aggressive BOGO offer at launch. This year, only Sprint offered an aggressive BOGO lease offer at launch, as AT&T’s BOGO requires home TV service and Verizon’s GS8 discount promo has a variety of requirements.”
BayStreet said that, according to its checks, Sprint’s sales of the Galaxy S8 are up 30% over its sales of the Galaxy S7 last year. However, the firm said that both AT&T and Verizon are selling roughly the same number of Galaxy S8 devices when compared with their sales of the Galaxy S7 last year. Meanwhile, T-Mobile’s sales of the devices are roughly 15% less than what the carrier sold of last year’s model.
“Overall we have the GS8 [sales] flat y/y through April and expect increased promotional focus in Q2,” the firm added....>
Of course, Samsung’s Galaxy S8 is launching into a much different environment in the United States than the company’s S7 did last year. First, as BayStreet noted, the S7 was one of the most heavily promoted Android device launches in recent history. Second, the S8 arrived in the U.S. market without Bixby, Samsung’s new voice-driven virtual assistant. Third, U.S. wireless carriers are generally working to cut costs amid relatively sluggish subscriber gains and increased competition as unlimited wireless data plans become industry table stakes." Read More
"The clearest evidence of AT&T’s newfound sales strategy comes from BayStreet Research, which recently reported that AT&T’s Android smartphone portfolio has been pared down from fully 42 units in 2015 to roughly half that today.
“AT&T appears much less focused on competing for smartphone subscribers compared to the past ~10 years,” noted BayStreet Research’s Cliff Maldonado in a recent report. “Conversely, Verizon has brought in Google’s Pixels and continues to promote a differentiated Motorola line up. Except for AT&T, all carriers continue to cycle traditional device promos, such as BOGOs, bundles, and discounts.”
Maldonado wrote that AT&T is instead largely putting its hopes behind mainstream, widely available phones like the Apple iPhone or the Samsung Galaxy line of devices. “AT&T's new approach appears to assume consumers will buy either an iPhone or Samsung flagship, with reps instead focused on selling consumers a differentiated portfolio of services, not devices,” he wrote." Read More
"At least in the near term, the fiasco hasn't triggered a mass migration to Samsung's competitors or thumped sales of its top-of-the-line flagship phone--last year's Galaxy S7, which is on track to be the company's best seller to date.
Around one in four Galaxy Note owners migrated to the iPhone, but most opted for another Samsung phone, said Cliff Maldonado, BayStreet Research's senior analyst, who tracks device sales. "It could have been a disaster for Samsung, but this wasn't so bad," Mr. Maldonado said." Read More
"Maldonado said that last month HTC laid off much of its field sales force, which means the company doesn’t have the staffing necessary to sell a major smartphone through all of the nation’s top wireless carriers. As a result, Maldonado said the company will likely move back into an ODM business model, where it will design devices for specific customers like Google and Sprint rather than designing its own flagship phones and selling them through as many carriers as possible." Read More
"“We believe the vast majority (70%) will remain with Samsung and likely choose a Galaxy S7 device alternative,” BayStreet wrote in a recent note. “The second, and more difficult variable, is what percentage of switchers are willing to leave the Android ecosystem. Note customers are aspirational and value premium brands, and thus the iPhone could certainly appeal to them. However, Note customers are also among Samsung's most loyal." Added BayStreet: “Our base case assumes roughly half of switchers (or 15% of total) will choose an iOS device, which equates to only a 200-300k increase to 4Q16 iPhone sales." Read More
"Cliff Maldonado, principal analyst at BayStreet research, said LeEco’s phone is attractively priced, but there is little to differentiate the phones from rivals—and said the content package wasn’t attractive enough to make up for that shortcoming." Read More
"According to BayStreet Research, the Galaxy Note 7 was “off to an excellent start” in the United States when it was first released last month, enjoying 25 percent higher sales than its predecessor.... “This is very unfortunate for Samsung as the Note 7 was in a position to perform as well as the GS7/GS7E had in the first half of the year,” BayStreet’s Cliff Maldonado told FierceWireless." Read More
"That demand is being fueled by aggressive marketing campaigns from mobile network operators eager to use the device to grow their subscriber bases. BayStreet Research’s Cliff Maldonado said recently that the phone is enjoying “unprecedented” promotional support from all four major U.S. carriers. UBS analysts echoed that sentiment, adding that strong carrier demand for the iPhone could weigh on industry margins as competition ramps up." Read More
"Measuring the size of the unlocked phone market in the United States is not an exact science. For example, BayStreet Research said roughly 15 percent of smartphones are sold unlocked and not tied to a specific wireless carrier, while Strategy Analytics said that figure could be as high as 40 percent." Read More
"The offer, according to BayStreet Research’s Cliff Maldonado, is “the most aggressive we have seen for a new iPhone at launch.... Maldonado said BayStreet estimates roughly 19 million consumers purchased an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus in the United States in the three months after the device went on sale two years ago, and “thus could have a fully paid off iPhone and benefit the most from this promotion.” Read More
But let’s be clear: Any smartphone vendor would be pleased to get U.S. carriers to sell its smartphones. According to BayStreet Research, wireless carriers control roughly 85 percent of smartphone sales in the United States, and Apple accounts for a good portion of the remaining unlocked, non-carrier smartphone market. “We doubt the unlocked market is poised for much growth outside of Apple,” BayStreet’s Cliff Maldonado told me. “The carriers offer too much value in their ‘showroom’ stores.” " Read More
"BayStreet offered a positive outlook on HTC’s new Desire 530, an update to the company’s low-cost Desire 626s that is primarily sold through various U.S. prepaid operators. The Desire 530 “should help regain share in 2HQ3,” BayStreet noted in a recent report." Read More
"The Galaxy Note 7 comes at a good time for Samsung. The Galaxy S7 outsold the Galaxy S6 in its first few months of release, and between the two of them, Apple and Samsung now control 91 percent of the US postpaid smartphone market, according to BayStreet Research." Read More
"Apple and Samsung between them now own 87 percent of postpaid sales at the big four national U.S. carriers, according to new stats from principal analyst Cliff Maldonado at mobile-focused research firm BayStreet Research." Read More
In the News
Data and analysis is often sourced from BayStreet Research for news articles for mobile industry and TMT investor clients. Here is some notable recent press.