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ComScore: Carriers Sell More Than Half Of All Cellphones

11/07/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern

RESTON, VA. – Carrier-owned stores and other carrier-
direct channels continued to capture the majority
of cellphones sold to consumers during the February
through August period, with carrier’ monthly share
ranging from 53.4 percent to 57.6 percent during
those months, a ComScore survey found.

In the indirect retail channel, the three largest
purchase venues were Best Buy, Walmart and RadioShack,
in that order, in all months but August, when
Amazon rose to third place in the indirect channel.

For the survey, ComScore compiles responses every
month from 10,000 cellphone users ages 13 and up,
then creates a three-month average that includes responses
from the previous two months. ComScore then
projects the total U.S. population that on average acquired
a phone in each month of the three-month period.

In its August results, for example, ComScore determined
that a total of 16.5 million consumers on average
acquired a new cellphone in each month in the
three-month period ending August.

From its responses, ComScore categorized 18 acquisition
venues, including current provider (carrier),
the entire independent-store channel, specific indirect
retailers such as Best Buy and Walmart, and such
venues as “given phone at work” and “given phone by
friend or family.” The “other” and “don’t know” categories
were also tracked.

The friends/family venue came in strong in the survey,
with friends and family members cited each month
as the second biggest source of an acquired phone.
The workplace venue ranked sixth through 10th depending
on the month.

The “other” category ranked fifth in each month, and
the “don’t know” category ranked from 11th to 14th
depending on the month.

Here’s how indirect retail outlets ranked among
ComScore’s 18 acquisition categories, which again include
friends/family, workplace, other, and don’t know.

Best Buy: The chain lost share during the sevenmonth
period yet maintained its overall third-place
share rank, after friends/family, in every month but July.
Best Buy’s share started at 6 percent in February and
March but fell in each subsequent month until it hit 5.1
percent in August.

Walmart: The general-merchandise chain came in
fourth every month but one (July), when it beat Best
Buy to come in third. Walmart’s share ranged from a
low of 4.1 percent to 5.4 percent.

RadioShack: The CE chain ranked sixth or seventh
each month with shares ranging from 2.6 percent to
3 percent. The statistics, however, were compiled before
the chain replaced T-Mobile with Verizon Wireless,
the nation’s largest carrier by subscriber count.

Amazon: The online retailer’s share rose steadily
from 13th place in February to sixth in August, when its
share rose to 2.8 percent from February’s 1 percent.

Independent stores: As a whole, independent stores
ranked eighth every month but May and June, when the
channel’s share ticked up to seventh place. Share percentages
ranged from 2.2percent to 2.6 percent.

eBay: Its rank ranged from ninth to 13th, having
starting at ninth in February, dipping as low as 13 in
July, then pulling back up in August to 11th. The company’s
percentage share ranged from a high of 2.7
percent in May and a low of 1.3 percent in both July
and August.

Costco: The chain ranked 10th and 11th most months,
rose to 9th in May and June, and fell to 13th in August
with shares ranging from 1.2 percent to 1.9 percent.

Target: The chain fell from 11th in February and
March to 13th and 16th in April and May, respectively,
then raised its rank to 14th, 12th and ninth in the subsequent
three months. Its share ranged from 0.5 percent
to 1.6 percent.

Apple stores/online store: The iPhone maker’s
rank started at 14th in February and March, rose to
12th and 11th in April and May, respectively, then fell to
13th, 14th and 12th in June, July and August, respectively.
Its share ranged from 1 percent to 1.5 percent.

Craiglist: The website’s rank hit 15th and 16th in
every month but May, when it peaked at 14th.

CircuitCity: The online store ranked 17th every
month but February, when it ranked 16th.

Wirefly: The online store ranked from 15th through 17th.

Let’s Talk: The online store ranked last each month.
In other findings, ComScore determined that roughly
two-thirds of phones acquired from sources other than
work, friends or family were acquired through brick-andmortar
stores each month. The stores included carrier
stores as well as indirect retail stores. This “purchase
method” accounted for 63.5 percent of phones acquired
in February, and in the subsequent months, the
brick-and-mortar accounted for the following shares, in
order: 64.9 percent, 67.9 percent, 67.6 percent, 66.4
percent, 67 percent and 68.4 percent.