Why carriers push Android handsets over iPhone

By , Aug 1, 2012

In what looks to have become an industry-wide practice in the United States (and some other parts of the world), carrier AT&T reportedly instructed its retail staff to aggressively push Android handsets in place of iPhones.

The policy has already contributed to a notable drop in the iPhone’s share in AT&T’s overall handset numbers, with Apple’s device falling from as much as 80 percent of smartphone sales at one AT&T store to between 50 and 60 percent share.

It’s not just AT&T, other carriers prefer Android wireless products, too, and here’s why…

Zach Epstein, writing for Boy Genius Report, was able to confirm a sudden change of heart for AT&T with “three independent sources” who claim that a slowdown in iPhone activations during the June quarter “may in fact be by design”.

Regional retail sales managers at AT&T have been instructing store managers to pump the brakes on Apple’s iPhone.

BGR reached out to AT&T and the carrier issued the following rebuttal of sorts:

The idea that we would steer any customer away from a particular device couldn’t be more farfetched. Our reps do what it takes to align customer needs with the best device for them.

iPhone remains one of our most popular devices, which doesn’t happen by steering people away from it. Our reps are encouraged to try all devices so they are more knowledgeable on our industry-leading smartphone lineup.

The carrier reportedly issued instructions to sales staff demanding they steer away from the iPhone towards Android phones or Windows Phone handsets. And what happens when a customer waltzes inside an AT&T store determined to buy an iPhone?

Even when customers come into stores specifically looking for the iPhone 4S or iPhone 4, staffers have been instructed to make an effort to show people Android and Windows Phone devices as well, so they can “make an informed decision”.

Furthermore, retail staff is no longer allowed to choose Apple’s phone as their business device “and must instead choose an Android smartphone or a Windows Phone”.

It’s not just AT&T.

As Sebastien noted on Monday, Verizon appears to have a similar policy in place as its retails staff is also attempting to talk customers into choosing Android handsets over the iPhone, even those who specifically ask for an iPhone.

Also important, and this is standard practice, carriers require customers to pay taxes on the fully unsubsidized hardware rather than the subsidized price paid in the store, which wouldn’t be a problem if telcos communicated this clearly in their advertising.

Contrary to the popular belief, store staff doesn’t earn a commission per each handset sale nor do Android handset vendors incentivize retailers to push their products. Instead, store staff earns money based on calling plans, data plans and tablet and accessory sales.

Put simply, metrics do exist in order to ensure that the stores hit the aforementioned targets.

Carriers impose metrics on store averages and store managers then impose various metrics on individual store staffers to hit their goals.

One of the more important metrics is LTE and with the current iPhone 4/4S offering lacking high-speed fourth-generation cellular network, no wonder carriers are pushing high-end Android handsets which are all 4G now.

Apple’s next iPhone is widely believed to feature 4G LTE networking so carriers will probably re-focus their marketing efforts on the sought-after device when a next-generation model makes its fall debut.

Though iPhones accounted for 72 percent of all AT&T’s smartphone activations during the second quarter of this year, it’s just a modest three percent growth.

Apple attributed the iPhone sales lull in Q2 2012 to ongoing rumors pertaining to the next iPhone, but it would seem that carriers’ desire to push Android over the iPhone is also to blame for Apple’s weak numbers.

What’s your buying experience like?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/soto619 David Soto

    Im going to Sprint next week to buy an iPhone for my girlfriend. If they mention the word Android to me. I’m going to tell them to shove that garbage up their asses.

    • http://twitter.com/NicksiPh0ne Nick

      Sprint won’t do that

    • Daniel Spinner

      Don’t do it their network is terrible.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Thomas-N-Shanna-Bernauer/100002948594321 Thomas N Shanna Bernauer

      Hahahah aha! Sprint needs to sell iPhones. The CEO took a pay cut because of the big expensive deal he made with apple!

    • Geeks on Hugs

      ANDROID!

  • http://twitter.com/StephenSkaar ϟTΣPHΣN

    i asked for an iphone and the person helping me was like “Let me show you the Droid Razor Max?” and i was was like “No i want an iphone and thats final”

  • http://www.GoldenGateDomains.com/ Golden Gate Domains

    They also want to “push” Android and Windows phones so they diversify their suppliers – Apple is a supplier to ATT, Sprint & Verizon – it is just smart business to not be “owned” by just one supplier.

    For example, look at the trouble Apple is having with Samsung as a supplier of almost all their major components – that has been changing now for the last year, but Apple really was at Samsung’s control there for a while.

  • http://twitter.com/int3nsive Int3nsive

    Carriers always prefer Android because it’s the only device that they can shit load with crapware and carrier logos on the devices…

    • Aaron de Silva

      I agree. Android is not reliable because of that and also the software isn’t made for the hardware.

    • Kok Hean

      Do they push the Nexus devices?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=604885391 Richard Borkovec

    Honestly, I think it’s cause the Android phones have LTE, and by pushing them into LTE they push them into their new Shared Data plans, which make them more money in the long run. I went in to Verizon yesterday to cancel my plan, and the person I was talking to while cancelling was just talking to me about the iPhone, even though I had told them I switched to an Android phone for my new plan at T-Mobile.

  • Daniel Levi

    lol i love version. they gave me a discount on a 4s and gave me an iphone 4 for free:) they never even brought up the word “android”

  • Ryan Stack

    why do people go to carrier stores when the apple store folks just want you to buy iPhones?

    • http://twitter.com/Pitchy Pitchy

      Because not everyone lives in big cities that have Apple stores. If I want to go to an Apple store it’s 93 miles in one direction, 119 in the other. Now if Apple would stop all the stupid Siri commercials and spend that money putting in more stores, then I’d be ticked pink… but I’m not driving over 200 miles just to get an iPhone when I can do the same thing in less than 20.

      • SimonReidy

        I’d have to literally fly a plane 5000 kilometres to my nearest Apple store, so I hear you! :)

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=719275655 Christopher Junior Lucas Riley

        Apple can’t put a thousand stores per year. It’s called “growing too fast” and companies lose a TON of money that way. However, I understand how it feels.

  • http://twitter.com/max53389 Max S

    Someone should go into a Verizon/AT&T store and ask for a android and see if they say “you should check out a iPhone”. Then we could see which they prefer.

  • zorkor

    Android is growing and there is no escaping the attack of the droids. I for once happy that I sold that piece of garbage called iPhone and bought something which has better reception, better battery life and gives me freedom to use my phone as I want it. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/xxLIUZHENYUxx Liu Zhenyu

    Go David! Android is total bullshit and Samsung is just an unoriginal dog!

  • http://twitter.com/JonesyTaughtU Jonesy

    I worked for a VZW retailer as a purchasing manager and these stories surfacing are completely true. Verizon pays its retailers a “SPIF” for selling certain android phones. The retailer then turns around and gives the sales rep an added commission for selling the android phone. All calling plans get paid a commission too. When i workrd there, the iphone commission wasnt based on the phone plan. It was actually less than selling a “dumb” phone. Why would a rep want to sell this? The iPhone sells itself but it’s on the customer to stick to their roots about what they really want.

    P.S. I was limited to how many iPhones I could order for each store and now the retailer no longer exists!

  • http://twitter.com/LostGreg Greg S

    Would be interesting to walk in to a store asking for an android device and see if they also suggest an iPhone.

  • air naji

    I can’t wait until my contract is up… I’m going prepaid !