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NPD: Smartphone Upgrade Plans Take Off

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. – Enrollment in cellular early-upgrade plans more than quadrupled to 31 percent of postpaid cellphone users in March from last September’s 7 percent, thanks to a high level of awareness, The NPD Group found in a consumer survey.

Seventy-three percent of mobile phone owners who were asked if they were aware of the availability of early-upgrade plans said they were somewhat or very aware, and about half were very aware, NPD said.

Consumers ages 55 and older are less interested in more-frequent upgrades than their younger counterparts, but Android and iPhone users are almost equally interested, the survey found. Twenty-two percent of Android users and 25 percent of Apple owners in a postpaid cellphone plan said they are extremely or very interested in upgrading their phone more frequently, NPD said.

Seventeen percent of postpaid cellphone users ages 55 and older are extremely or very interested in the plans, compared with 23 percent of people ages 35 to 54 and 21 percent of people ages 18 to 34.

All told, 20 percent of all postpaid cellphone users are extremely or very interested in the plans, and an-other 37 percent are somewhat interested.

Despite their success, the plans could be more successful, NPD noted. The plans’ success “has been tempered by ongoing challenges in the ability of the carriers’ retail channels to explain and sell the value of these programs,” said Stephen Baker, industry analysis VP. “We found that a significant number of potential buyers did not receive information or properly understand these plans at the point-of-sale. Carriers could potentially add to the success of these new plans by properly addressing these issues.”

The survey also found that 84 percent of smartphone owners who signed up for an early-upgrade plan said keeping up with the latest technology was one of the reasons they signed up. Money was the next most-often cited reason. Sixty-two percent said being able to finance a phone in monthly installments was an influence on their decision.

As for what in the plans was most attractive to them, 39 percent of early-upgrade adopters cited a desire to keep up with technology, and 17 percent cited monthly financing.

NPD obtained its results from an online survey in March of 3,572 mobile phone owners (age 18 and older). Among them, 2,290 owned a smartphone.