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Cell Distribution In Flux

Cellphone distribution patterns are changing.

More retail stores are selling Cricket Wireless prepaid phones, fewer Walmart stores are selling T-Mobile postpaid service, and Apple is losing share of iPhone sales sold through its 267 stores and online store.

For its part, Cricket continues to expand its retail distribution with the announcement that 1,300 Best Buy locations and almost 2,000 Aaron’s lease-to-own locations will carry the provider’s phones and services. The additions will expand the number of national retail outlets selling Cricket to 8,000, Cricket said.

Cricket’s phones returned to Best Buy stores and in April after an absence of almost four years. Cricket products will appear in Aaron’s stores and Aaron’s website for the first time over the next three months.

The launch will bring Cricket phones to more than 12,000 brick-and-mortar outlets in the U.S. They include 2,800 GameStop stores; almost 4,000 Cricket-brand stores, most of them operated by independent retailers; 1,000 Walmart stores, and 1,600 Target stores. Cricket is also sold through Cricket-owned stores, Walmart stores, Amazon and the websites operated by independent retailers.

In 2015, Cricket expanded its distribution by more than 5,000 outlets, Cricket president John Dwyer told TWICE. The 2015 expansion included the entry into Target stores. Amazon was also added in 2015.

Additional Cricket stores also opened this year, bringing the Cricket-brand store count to almost 4,000 Cricket stores.

T-Mobile: T-Mobile’s postpaid-phone distribution retrenched a bit after Walmart halted a six-month pilot of T-Mobile postpaid-service sales at around 600 Walmart stores, Wave7 Research reported.

The exit followed a move by Walmart last fall to scale back Sprint postpaid sales last fall to around 500 Walmart stores, the research company said.

AT&T and Verizon postpaid phones continue to be available in all or close to all Walmart stores, said Wave7 Research principal Jeffrey Moore.

T-Mobile continues to offer prepaid services at Walmart stores and partners with Walmart for the retailer’s Walmart Family Mobile service.

Apple: For its part, Apple is selling a smaller share of iPhones through its stores and web site to U.S. consumers as carriers increase their share of iPhone sales, Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) reported.

Apple’s share fell to 11 percent in 2015 from 16 percent two years ago, while the share of U.S. iPhones bought at carrier stores and websites grew to 76 percent from 65 percent. CIRP cited carriers’ more aggressive promotional stance in offering installment-payment and leasing plans.