Categories

How many iPhones are being discarded in the US?

In the recently posted US Smartphone Landscape I used comScore’s data to paint a picture of the growth of smartphones in general and the shape of the mobile platforms in the US. The source was survey data measuring the installed base. If we compare the installed base sequentially, we can get the increase (or decrease) of a particular platform. Comscore reports monthly but we can also summarize the data at a quarter-by-quarter basis.

There is another source however for the US market, at least for the iPhone: operator activations. They report iPhone activations, shown below.

Can we use activations together with installed base data to learn something about the market? Yes, with some caveats.

First, it should be noted that install base should account for all sorts of devices. They could be new, old or hand-me-downs or purchased used. Changes in install base would come from addition of new devices but also from devices being discarded and users leaving the platform. Activations on the other hand include units new units but also those which have been re-activated after initial sale because they were either sold or given to other users. As far as I know operators do not report “net” activations so lost users are not included.

When the formulas are combined[1], what we get is the change in installed base is equal to Activations minus “discarded” iPhone, where “discarded” are both iPhones put aside in favor of a new iPhone or put aside in favor of another phone.

Since we have installed base change data and we have activation data we should be thus able to derive the number of iPhones being “discarded” or put out of use every quarter as the difference between activations and change in installed base.

That allows the following chart to be built:

The green, dark blue and orange areas are given inputs and the light blue area representing discarded phones is derived.

This is an interesting (new) piece of information. What it suggests is that at least in the US the discard rate, i.e. number of phones being discarded over number of new phones is about 50% (56% on average over seven quarters.)

It’s a rate I find surprising because I expected more of the phones to be re-used. But more surprising is that it leads to some surprising and possibly implausible behavior at AT&T.

If you look at the last three quarters, you can see that Verizon activations are very nearly equal to the increase in install base. As all Verizon users are new, they are certainly not replacing iPhones, so the green bars next to the yellow bars imply that all those new users are Verizon users. But that means that all the activations through AT&T were to replace existing phones and that AT&T only added a bit more than one million iPhone users in nine months.

In quarters prior to Verizon’s launch, the AT&T discard rate was a modest 60% on average and after Verizon launch it went to 81%.

What does it mean?

Note:

  1. The following diagram shows the derivation of “discarded” units.

 

  • Anonymous

    What about iPhone users moving to a carrier that does not sell iPhones ?

    • Rj

      Along with other carriers (didn’t T-Mobile issue some numbers on the use of iPhones on their network?) there are also non-iPhone plans with AT&T (eg used with prepay) and devices exported (via eBay etc).

      • Anonymous
      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

        Yes, they should show up in the comScore survey.

      • Joe

        Horace, I would love to see the statistics on the flow of users between Android and iPhone. Anecdotally I hear of a large number of 2nd or 3rd generation smartphone buyers moving from android to iOS, but I have no numbers to back this.

      • Rj

        Thanks Eduardo.

      • Anonymous

        I am of this number. I have had 4 iPhones

        3 iPhone 3s
        1 died at 6 months – warranty replaced
        1 died at 4 months – warranty replaced
        1 lived 14 months… sold to person in Uraguay and replace with iPhone 4

        my iPhone 4: likely will end up with my daughter if the iPhone 5 is released next year, and the battery can be replaced (assuming it needs to be).

      • Michaelndn

        Sure, you can replace the iphone battery. Either at the apple store or diy by buying parts from ifixit.com

      • Anonymous

        Yep. as soon as I went off-contract I went GoPhone. I did this with a 3gs and then later upgraded to a iPhone 4 from CL. There is a lot of device reuse, just not in the “official” channels.

  • Anonymous

    You write, “As all Verizon users are new, they are certainly not replacing iPhones,” but at least some of these Verizon activations are by people who would be switching from ATT and could in fact be replacing their ATT iPhones. Or have I misunderstood this?

    • BigAl50

      Agreed. AT&T’s biggest fear, and the reason they invested a lot in improving their network in 2010, was because of the VZW iPhone that everyone knew was coming. AT&T also countered the VZW iPhone by dropping the iPhone 3GS to $50 in Q1 temp new buyers to AT&T compared to the $200 iPhone 4 CDMA.

  • Hossein

    Two points come to mind:
    1. After Verizon started selling the iPhone, AT&T’s natural reaction was offering incentives to slightly dissatisfied iPhone users in its network to keep them from switching to Verizon. These could have been in the form of early upgrades. If so, this could partially explain your finding.

    2. Another implication/conclusion of this finding is confirming a common theory about Apple users. They are a minority (compared to the general population of consumers) who are highly loyal to the brand. To confirm this I encourage you to do similar analysis on Mac sales vs. discard rates. Anecdotal evidence suggests that every time there is a new/better Mac loyal Mac users discard their old computer and buy the new one.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      Here discard means the product is literally put away. New(ish) computers and iPhones are valuable in secondary markets. The comScore data is supposed to measure how many people use a particular device/OS regardless of how they got it. The one thing I wonder about is that since comScore data covers 13 year olds as the minimum age, could there be significant hand-me-downs to children?

      • Anonymous

        Does comScore count iPhones that are now doing “iPod Touch” duty? My original 2007 iPhone is still in very highly active use as a media center remote control, alarm clock, kitchen timer, etc.

    • http://twitter.com/Marcos_El_Malo Marcos_El_Malo

      This is based on experience and my contact with other Mac users over the past 15 years, but the upgrade cycles tend to be 3-4 years, with the exception of those professional users who constantly needed to upgrade (for faster rendering and other CPU-intensive tasks). Those cutting edge users, much fewer in number, tended to upgrade every year or so.

      When users retired a computer, it either became a hand-me-down pr was sold. Macs tend to have decent resale value, probably due to both constrained supply and longevity of utility. Sometimes, especially in the cases of the professionals, replaced computers became secondary computers, parts of home render farms, or back ups in case the primary money making systems failed.

      (I recall one Motion Graphics specialist that kept four Mac systems going in his office. Three were for jobs (he tried to have three projects going at all times), and he’d hop from machine to machine as each completed a process. The fourth was lighter duties: email, web, and designs/comps. He had a couple of other machines on standby in case any of his systems failed.)

      I cannot point to any numbers to support my anecdotal information.

      However, I’ll offer another anecdote: About 2 month ago, I came across a young man of the age of 9 with an original iPhone. His father had given it to him when he upgraded, and the youngster used it as an iPod Touch, i.e., wifi only. Both parents carried 3GSes. I assume this was a rather well off family, as they were spending six months in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, with the father flying back to the states as needed for business.

  • Erik ABLESON

    An interesting question that I’ve been thinking about for a while as well. I’m wondering about the growth of services like Gazelle that handle recycling and resale. Where do these items get resold? Into the US market? or elsewhere in the world?

    Anecdotal data from Europe makes me wonder if this is also a US specific habit of technology being a throw-away investment. From my perspective in France, between myself and my wife, I can follow the usage patterns of my various iPhones as follows :

    Original iPhone – sold to a colleague, then given to her father, still in use
    2 iPhone 3G models, replaced by an iPhone 4 and an iPhone 4S, currently in use as iPod touches and remote controls at home with no SIM card installed.

    I’ve seen this pattern of reuse by a number of friends and colleagues, specifically for “obsolete” devices that cannot run iOS 5. It becomes the default remote control on the coffee table or beside the bed

    So I suspect that the majority of the discards are falling into two camps :
    – resale via recyclers or eBay to non US markets (no means of tracking these stats)
    – re-use in family as wifi only devices (discards from the operators’ POV)

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      Would a recycled AT&T iPhone still be locked to AT&T? As far as I know there is no option for AT&T phones to ever be legitimately unlocked.

      • http://twitter.com/qka qka

        Unlocking and jailbreaking are both legal in the US. Of course Apple frowns on both.

      • Xavieritzmann

        But wait, I understand unlike other phones, iPhone unlocking requires installation of an alternate OS, therefore destroying much of the value of the iPhone.

      • Ab

        Nope. Unlocking and jailbreaking opens up the phone and adds value. Check Ebay prices for unlocked iPhones are more than locked phones.

        Unlocking has more to do with the baseband. Jailbreaking lets you install apps not from the app store and modify the o/s.

      • Anonymous

        So far as I know, the only way to unlock an old AT&T iPhone is to jailbreak, then unlock it.

      • Anonymous

        No, unlocking is possible in ios. In fact I’m not aware it’s possible to install another OS on iPhones.

  • http://nmuppala.wordpress.com Nalini Kumar Muppala

    I suspect a majority of the devices are being reused as iPod Touches. The cost of owning a new iPhone is not much more than reusing a hand-down as the main phone, if you consider the mandatory data plan and minimum voice package required to go with it. For those who do not want to pay upfront and are happy to sign a contract and need a post paid voice plan, it makes sense to sign up for a new iPhone than reuse an old one.

    I do not think many are going into recycling right away.

    • Anonymous

      That’s what we did with my 3GS. It’s now an iPod touch for the kids. I wonder if this is one of the reasons Apple didn’t update the iPod touch this year. Eventually, many iPhone 4S phones will be waterfalled to become iPod touches.

      This essentially nukes the iPod touch as a growing product line. Heck, an unlocked iPhone 4S or 4 would be the iPod touch w/3G we’ve all been wanting. Except for the part about Apple convincing the carriers to sell no contract $10/$20/$30 data plans. That still needs to be done.

  • Anonymous

    With over 60% of iPhones being sold outside the USA one has to consider the question of whether or not USA iPhone owner behaviour patterns are typical of non-USA iPhone owner behaviour patterns. They may well be typical, but there are a lot of influencers that might make a difference.

  • Ab

    Horace, any chance you can link to your data behind these charts?

    Just to clarify.

    Apples quarters Q2 2011 ends march 26, Q3 2011 ends June 25, Q4 2011 ends Sep 24. –

    I assume AT&T reports quarters at the end of each month Q1 March, Q2 June, Q3 September, Q4 December?

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      All the data is based on calendar quarters.

  • Ab

    If your Iphone is replaced then I assume you have to re-activate it on the network? Would that be a new activation or not? I’m from the UK so I don’t know how AT&T operate.

  • Tdurant

    I bet a lot of people like myself use our old iPhones as iPad minis. They have so many apps and can still log on to the network the kids might as well use them for app activities. Everyone I know with a new iPhone use their new one this way.

  • Luis Alejandro Masanti

    I think that theothergeoff has a point with “warranty”: how many go back to Apple?
    Of course, they can go back as reburfished.

    Also I think that the “non-sim reuse” is a big place: why buy an iPod touch if you already paid for the old iPhone?

    All this put a “big grey zone” that do not help in the analysis. Buy a very good one, indeed.
    And, maybe, you can do it only with Apple, because other companies gave us “sold to the channel” numbers, not “sold to users”.

  • BDL

    A minor point, comScore reports a rolling 90 day average. Their number (assuming linear sales) would lag by 45 days compared to ATT and Verizon which are reporting end of quarter activations. For the most recent quarter, I would estimated 1.5 million users behind. The numbers at the end of 2010 were only rising at 500,000 users per month or so so they were 750,000 behind. Overall, this may explain some of the apparent difference in the pre-verizon and post-verizon discard rates.

    It will be more important to remember the 90 day rolling average when October comScore numbers are reported and people claim the sky is falling because of the small rise of Apple users reported for October. Between the 4S being released in mid-October (only 15 days out of 90 for the October report) and the high initial upgrade rate, the comScore number will under estimate the impact of the 4S release.

  • Anonymous

    Gazelle, and many of the places that purchase used iPhones sale them overseas. I’ve heard mainly in Asia. If there are that many used iPhones going to Asia, and all the new iPhones being sold in Asia, it really does mean the Asia market is growing like crazy.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, the used GSM iPhones from AT&T are not being reactivated on AT&T, they are being reactivated on carriers that do not sell iPhone. That is where T-Mobile iPhones come from, and where the iPhones in countries where iPhone is not officially sold come from.

    I’m in the US, and both the iPhones I have sold were to people in countries where they could not go out and buy a new iPhone. That is where the used market is strongest. Those are the people who are willing to pay top dollar for a good used iPhone. These countries also have a thriving iPhone parts and repair industry. A friend of mine visited a country in Africa and said he couldn’t believe how many iPhones he saw, considering that new ones were not on sale there.

    My roommate sold his used GSM iPhones from AT&T to Gazelle, who apparently sell most of their iPhones internationally, too.

    So there is no mystery.

  • Anonymous

    I would agree with two of the thoughts already posed, that one, some of the old iPhones are being used as iPod touches; and two, even more of these old iPhones are being sold and shipped to countries like China where supposedly 5M iPhones are being used on China Mobile’s network at EDGE speeds, since their 3G network is not iPhone-compatible.

  • Michael A. Lowry

    When I inherited an old AT&T-locked iPhone 3GS, I called AT&T to ask them to unlock it. I live outside the United States, so I thought the request might be granted. Eventually I gave up trying though. It seems AT&T will not unlock an iPhone under any circumstances.

    Re-using old products to extend their useable lifetimes is an effective way of reducing the impact of a product on the environment. Unfortunately, the plain truth is that it is not in AT&T’s interest to make phones usable on another network, regardless of the negative environmental consequences.

    AT&T no longer has a monopoly on the iPhone in the U.S.; however, by refusing to unlock phones, AT&T increases the cost of switching to another network. AT&T thereby retains some additional fraction of erstwhile switchers—those people who would switch if only they could use their old phone on the new network.

    Simply put, AT&T would rather a phone be discarded than used on a competitor’s network. The high number of discarded phones is a strong indicator of customers’ dissatisfaction with AT&T. Many people are switching from AT&T to one of its competitors, despite the additional cost of purchasing a new phone.

    To be fair to AT&T (and Apple), the high discard rate is also an indication of the large appeal of each successive generation of iPhone.

    AT&T proudly announces its commitment to good corporate citizenship and protecting the natural environment.
    http://www.att.com/gen/corporate-citizenship?pid=8506

    Apple also prides itself on its commitment to the highest standards of environmental stewardship.
    http://www.apple.com/environment/

    AT&T’s no-unlock policy illustrates quite clearly that when being a good corporate citizen is at odds with making higher profits, things like environmental responsibility are assigned a very low priority if they’re considered at all.

    • Drew

      My family currently has four iPhones (mix of 3GS and 4) with AT&T. We are on the verge of upgrading all of them to the iPhone 4S. I am inclined to go with Verizon, because they will unlock the GSM SIM slot of the phone so that it can be used internationally with any carrier. It seems that you could then also use the phone unlocked in the US with an AT&T SIM, but I’m not sure why you would while still on Verizon contract.

      For us, the most important reason for unlocking is to be able to escape AT&T extortionary rates for international roaming.

      • OpenMinde

        I would go with Verizon simply because they will unlock SIM after while. It also increases resale value of your iPhone.

  • Anonymous

    Where have all the iPhones gone? My experience:

    1st iphone – currently swims with the fishes (literally)
    2d iphone – shipped to my mother. (active)
    3d iphone – bequeathed to my 11 year in a midnight ceremony involving blood sacrifice (not activated)
    4th iphone – Currently planning a daring shell game to convince my wife to take it when the iPhone 5 comes out.

  • SPL

    I believe many are in use but not as phones. Our family of 2 adults, 2 kids have 6 iPhones total:
    2 * iPhone 4 — active contract AT&T
    1 * iPhone 3GS — on shelf as backup
    1 * iPhone 3G — no SIM, used as guest music player / internet radio
    2 * iPhone — no SIM, used as kids’ iPod Touches

    • John316ksu

      I am using iPhones in similar manner. We are family of 3 adults and have total of 5 iPhones:

      1* iPhone 4s – active under contract
      2*iphone 4 – active under contract
      1*iphone 3G – with prepaid SIM , used to make cheap overseas call from Australia
      1 * iPhone 3G -no SIM, used as music player/Internet radio

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ZSRM2PT2DAD6F4FOBLBYK4MYUU RonaldK

    My last two iPhones act as iPod touches, and as backups just in case damage occurs.

  • http://fahrenheit98.wordpress.com/ VrDrew

    Its not particularly surprising that ATT “only” added a million or so new iPhone accounts in the last quarter.

    I believe that consumers have a surprising amount of “loyalty” to their cellular provider. (Maybe “loyalty” isn’t the right word, so much as aversion to change.) Changing cellphone carriers means a certain amount of inconvenience (ie. writing out a check to a different company each month, concern about the level of cellular service in your home area, worries about losing phone numbers, etc.)

    To that end, I think that most current ATT customers who WEREN’T already using an iPhone deferred making the decision until the introduction of the iPhone 4S – even if it meant hanging on to an existing non-Apple ATT phone that was out of contract. Verizon customers, by way of contrast, were in general “excited” about the opportunity to sample a previously “forbidden fruit” in the form of the (now obsolescent) iPhone 4.

    The fate of “old” phones is an intriguing question. I suspect that Apple has agreements with carriers regarding the fate of phones that get traded in. Some may be reconditioned for sale in secondary markets. But surely some are returned for recycling. Lastly, I believe consumers in the USA, used as they are to low-value “locked” phones, are by and large unaware of the resale value of a premium item such as an out-of-contract iPhone, and may simply leave them in a drawer or recycling center.

  • Pingback: OnlineMagazine » Blog Archive » Discarded iPhones in the US()

  • Pingback: Discarded iPhones in the US « Mac City()

  • Pingback: Discarded iPhones in the US « Mac City()

  • MOD

    There are no such things as discarded Iphones, Gazelle will buy broken 3GS Iphones for $50. Used for $100 and up. They are sending me a prepaid envelope too.

    Discarded Iphones are like discarded BMWs. No such thing. Unless one does not have a clue about resale opportunities.

    Also, I read that although Gazelle claims to resell on Ebay, they don’t have any for sale on Ebay. They are sent to Asia or Africa in a wholesale trade.

    I am just curious how they unlock ATT phones, or do the carriers overseas work around it.

    Maybe AT&T gives them permission once they show it is exported…

    • kevin

      Agree, most of the “discarded” phones are sent overseas, so no longer show up in the US installed base. Selling used iPhones helps defray the cost of new iPhones (and the cost of broken contracts).

      Horace, did you also track T-Mobile’s comments on iPhones on its network? Granted the numbers are smaller, but it would make for a more complete US picture.

      • http://twitter.com/asymco Horace Dediu

        T-Mobile users would fall under the comScore sample of current usage and thus be part of the green bars.

  • TheJimmy

    from Joe: Horace, I would love to see the statistics on the flow of users between Android and iPhone.

    seconded. Also would love to see how many Android phones are discarded – seems like support for the OS would greatly influence turnover:

    http://theunderstatement.com/post/11982112928/android-orphans-visualizing-a-sad-history-of-support

  • Pingback: iWyre()

  • thisispete

    yeah just think how many shattered screens you’ve seen.. I’d say one in 5 around my group of friends and co-workers went down like that. I’ve also seen alot of people use their old ones as hand me down ipod touches. my first gen is now dedicated to my car stereo. I don’t think the numbers are that surprising at all.

  • Robscottza

    A safe assumption is that comscore’s numbers are wrong and/ or do not account for iPhones that are no longer used as voice devices.
    The correct thing to do is for Horace to check the data with comscore and report back.

    This is totally unheard of for a popular product and brand like the iPhone. I take this report with a truck of salt. It is completely unbelievable, and I bet wrong.

    • Anonymous

      Comscore’s numbers explicitly cover primary handsets. If old iPhones are being used as secondary devices for business accounts then they won’t be counted – or any other use other than primary handset.

      • http://twitter.com/asymco Horace Dediu

        They also do not count any users under age of 13.

      • davel

        Really?

        Wow. That is a huge undercount esp for the east coast.

    • http://twitter.com/asymco Horace Dediu

      How about if the correct thing to do is for comScore to check their data vs. AT&T and Verizon published data (as I have done).

  • Pingback: Appleable - Discarded iPhones in the US()

  • JD

    How does one account for iPhones “flying under the radar”? For example, once the contract is complete some phones are simply moved to PAYG plans with no data plan. Or, for example, my original iPhone (bought from Apple, jailbroken and unlocked) was never activated on AT&T but used with T-Mobile in the U.S. and Europe. It is now with my brother in-law being used on a PAYG plan in a country that has no official iPhone.

  • Pingback: Discarded iPhones in the US | Design City()

  • http://www.intel.com cosbin2

    I doubt my ip3g type of use is in this equation as well. New from apple, never activated, only used as an iPod.

  • Gregg Thurman

    Horace, I believe there is a major flaw in your analysis. That is that your sample is limited to the US. My experience is that buyers from other countries are recycling older iPhones in their respective countries. These units would not show up on ATT and/or Verizon.

    Ex: China Mobile is not an authorized iPhone carrier, yet has more than 1,000,000 iPhones operating on its network. I’ll bet this is going on all around the world (Russia, India, Brazil, etc)

    • Adamthompson3232

      CM has over 10M iPhones in use, not 1M.

    • Twaite90

      iphone made in China

  • Anonymous

    some strange figures for AT&T…They claim the 3GS is there 2nd highest selling handset – I can’t imagine to many iphone upgraders after 2 years going from a iphone 3GS to another iPhone 3GS….? Surely most of the iphone 3GS sales over the last 1-2 quarters would have been to new iPhone users on AT&T?

    • http://twitter.com/asymco Horace Dediu

      Good point. A 100% AT&T discard rate sounds really implausible.

  • Pingback: Discarded iPhones in the US « News « Apps24h – Iphone Game News and Reviews()

  • http://www.facebook.com/chris.stewart.fb Chris Stewart

    I’ve always found Horace’s analysis fascinating. In this case, I have a few points to raise:

    1) T-Mobile has already confirmed that there are over a million iPhones running on their network (albeit sluggishly on EDGE). I believe this accounts for a significant number of “discarded” phones

    2) I’ve owned 9 iPhones over the past 4 years. Here’s the fate of each of them:
    * iPhone 2G – Given away to my brother-in-law, who gave it away once he purchased an iPhone 4.
    * (2) iPhone 3G – Sold via Craigslist at a profit to a local guy who said he would use them on T-Mobile.
    * (2) iPhone 3GS – One was given to a friend who moved overseas to use as his primary device, as the iPhone is extremely expensive in that country, and the other was sold to yet another Craigslist user to use on T-Mobile, also at a profit.
    * (2) iPhone 4 – Both sold via Craigslist to a guy that says he sells the phones back to his mother country at a handsome profit.
    * (2) iPhone 4S – both actively used by my wife and myself.

    In Horace’s analysis, 7 of these devices would be considered “discarded,” but in fact they are all probably in use today. This phenomenon explains the larger-than-expected numbers he noticed.

    Other than platform lock-in, the main reason I’m sticking with iOS is the high resale value of devices, which I can sell at a profit even a year after purchasing them. I’m curious to know if Android users are experiencing the same phenomena, or if this is confined to the iPhone alone.

    • http://twitter.com/asymco Horace Dediu

      comScore usage data is what it is. T-Mobile users should fall under the “using iPhone” sample.

    • Ab

      How do you consider selling them at a profit? I assume you bought them on contract and upgraded early? Whats your figures?

  • Pingback: Discarded iPhones in the US | Brian's Blog Site()

  • Anonymous

    Horace – are you sure the AT&T & Verizon iphone numbers are for all iPhone “activations”, and not instead just for new iPhones sold for use on those carriers?

  • Rob Scott

    Even more reason to check with comscore and understand the methodology before talking and writing about discarded iPhones!

  • Rob Scott

    I do not think the data supports the conclusions reached on this piece. In fact there is more evidence to the contrary: usage stats, iPhone vs. Android on Facebook, app downloads, satisfaction ratings, upgrade cycles, etc. Too many points suggest that there are no discarded/dissapearing/or unused iPhones. Which why it’s strange that Horace concludes what he concludes here.

    What he aught to have concluded is that comscore has a lot of explaining to do and that they possible have bias against the iPhone and iOS thus Apple.

  • http://twitter.com/virg1l Virgil

    Wow horace, you shattered the world for half of your readers, look how hard they try to argue with data.
    “but MY experience is different, statistics can’t be right, surely MY experience is more relevant than statistical data!”

    (btw, not saying that your numbers can’t be wrong, I just find it so funny that many people assume personal experience can extrapolate to an entire population)

    • http://twitter.com/asymco Horace Dediu

      “Statistics” are sometimes wrong. Sometimes the only way to find flaws in sampling methods is to compare them to anecdotal data. comScore data could be contradicted. We just don’t know yet if we are at some absurd conclusion that would allow us to dismiss it.

      • http://twitter.com/virg1l Virgil

        I disagree. Yes, statistics are OFTEN wrong (not just sometimes). But the best way to find flaws in it is to look at the methodology, not to look at anecdotal evidence. Yes, you can start by looking at anecdotal evidence to find cases that were not captured in the analysis, but you need to follow through… anecdotal evidence is NOT “evidence”, it can be at most the start of an unproven theory.Which you still have to prove.
        I.e., I’d find completely reasonable questions like “does ComScore capture uses of IPhones as IPods? If not, is there any way we can find out how widespread this phenomenon is?”. At the same time, I find completely unreasonable posts that say “my iphone was bought from Apple and used only as iPod, so there, they don’t capture my case, their data is surely flawed”

        (also, the observation about 3GS sales figures on AT&T is a good one; there are far better ways than “anecdotal evidence” to cast doubts on data)

    • Ab

      If you don’t agree with the conclusion then the conclusion must be wrong! Comscore data by its very nature is not as reliable as activation data from the networks. I understand the networks are double counting ie when a phone is resold and reconnected its considered as a new activation.

      Reading the posts below it does give you the impression that Apple is selling to the already converted.

  • http://twitter.com/MarketingXD MarketingXD

    Of course there are “discarded/dissapearing/unused” iPhones. These things are fragile, easily dropped, and expensive to repair. Google search for: cracked iphone screen

    http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=cracked+iphone+screen&hl=en&safe=off&biw=1920&bih=1054&prmd=imvns&source=lnms&tbm=isch&ei=v166TvbRF5Km8gP66OSbBw&sa=X&oi=mode_link&ct=mode&cd=2&sqi=2&ved=0CGcQ_AUoAQ

    • MOD

      http://www.gazelle.com/iphone

      – Does not power on
      – Broken or cracked LCD screen
      – Broken, cracked, or missing parts (ringer switch, charging ports etc.)

      worth $40+

      Who would discard $40?

  • Pingback: ‘Helft van alle iPhones wordt afgedankt’ - iPhone - iPhoneclub.nl()

  • Pingback: ‘Helft van alle iPhones wordt afgedankt’ - iPhone - iPhoneclub.nl()

  • Pingback: Ruim helft van alle iPhones niet hergebruikt | TelecomNieuws.com()

  • davel

    What stands out for me here is the drastic haircut ATT has in the units of Apple phones sold once Verizon hit. It is no wonder they are putting more resources into acquiring and promoting Android on their network.

    • http://financial-alchemist.blogspot.com Turley Muller

      Hard to quantify the Verizon effect because AT&T always sees iPhone sales trail off after huge pop from new iPhone launch. IP4 was launched last week of Q2 2010 and the 4S wasn’t launched until now, Q4. But certainly, AT&T did lose the benefit of VZ subs switching for the iPhone.

      A major reason AT&T is putting more resources into Android is because it has lost its signature (hero) device, which is the subject of heavy marketing. AT&T benefited from Apple’s iPhone marketing because it was exclusive to them. That set them apart. Now, AT&T needs devices to promote in their own ads, exclusive to them. i.e. Motorola Atrix .

  • davel

    Horace

    I was looking at some old threads.

    You may want to adjust the profiles for your site.

    When someone posts the post is indented and the requisite margins are increased ( and the text box is shrunk ). This leads to absurd situations where a post becomes one letter a line.

    Thanks

  • Pingback: Dolleman.nl - Dolleman.nl()

  • http://financial-alchemist.blogspot.com Turley Muller

    I think the issue here is problems with the ComScore data and discrepencies between primary device of unique users vs activated subsciptions.

    There are more wireless subs in the US than the total population. Not all of the entire population are mobile users. (b/c age, income, preference/need etc) So maybe there are 230-250M unique users in the US. Comscore says there are 87.4M smartphone users, but actual smartphone subs reported by the carriers is well over 100M. Some people have multiple devices, some are kids (which ComScore doesn’t count) and likely some just aren’t counted accurately. In addition, the numbers have a considerable lag because they are 3M moving averages.

    So what happens if one has a RIM for work & iPhone for personal? or if one uses both an Android and iPhone? Which one is counted in the Comscore numbers? Only a small percentage of people have more than one mobile number, but it’s still a significant amount.

    Thus, there are flaws and limitations in using ComScore data. I have a hard-time making sense of simple facts such as- 26M iPhones activated since IP4 lauch last year vs ComScore’s current total 24M IB figure. Another way to look at is that AT&T activated 16M smartphones this year, and grew IB by 7M. Thus, 9M were replacements. There were 10M iPhones & 6M other activated. Therefore, at minimum, The iPhone IB grew 1M if you assume all 6M other activations were upgrades from dumbphones. That’s a very unlikely assumption. It is fair to assume that a majority of iPhone activations were replacements, but not all. Of course there is some churn in there, but not much.

    ComScore IB of 24M iPhones doesn’t make sense given there have been 50M total activations in the US, and 35M of which occured in the past 24 months. That would imply at least 11M, or 1/3 of the iPhones activated past 2 years have been discarded. A more likely figure would be 50% or higher, similar to your calculation. That just doesn’t make sense. Period. The ComScore data isn’t reliable to use in the experiment.

  • Anonymous

    My wife’s brand new iPhone is on T-Mobile, and I do not believe those are on your chart. Her first activation was on H20 wireless, but they do not have good coverage in our area. I believe the thousands being sold on ebay are mostly going to similar carriers. What about C-Spire?

  • KRRS1992

    If 50% is in the fact the percentage of iPhones discarded, how many iPhones are discarded then? (In terms of a number, like 100,000,000 iPhones discarded each year)