MacRumors reports that even though Verizon and Sprint now offer the iPhone, AT&T is not seeing the customer defection numbers analysts thought they would. Many observers thought that once AT&T lost iPhone exclusivity in the United States they would experience a large number of cancellations caused by their customers moving to Verizon or Sprint.
“Churn has not moved at all,” says AT&T executive Glen Laurie, president of emerging devices for AT&T. (Churn is the number of customers who cancel services.)
The carriers relationship with Apple has been positive, and they’ve have had record-breaking sales of the new iPhone 4S. Sales have outstripped supply, with customers facing a one to two week wait time to get the 4S through AT&T.
AT&T does hold several advantages over their competitors when it comes to the iPhone. One major advantage is network speed. The new 4S supports HSPA+ technology, which allows AT&T to offer significantly faster data speeds for the device than Sprint and Verizon can offer on their CDMA networks. Sprint users have been particularly vocal of the very slow data speeds they’ve experienced on the 4S so far.
Since AT&T is the only GSM-based iPhone carrier in the United States, they are able to offer the iPhone 3GS free on contract, Verizon and Sprint both offer the $99 iPhone 4 as their “low end” device. When the two year service contracts are taken into consideration, the pricing difference becomes moot, but customers are still attracted to the free upfront “price” of the 3GS.
The expansion to Verizon and Sprint has proven to have an effect on the one major carrier not offering the iPhone, however: T-Mobile USA. The carrier noted in it’s earning discussion last week that churn due to the iPhone has proven to be an “area of concern”.