| NEW YORK
NEW YORK May 22 T-Mobile overtook
Sprint Corp as the No. 3 smartphone purchaser in the
United States in the first quarter, according to a report, as
the company used aggressive discounting to add more new
subscribers than any other U.S. wireless operator.
T-mobile bought 6 million smartphones in the first quarter,
compared with Sprint's 5 million, according to Neil Shah,
analyst at Counterpoint Technology Market Research.
Smartphones account for 87 percent of total handsets in the
United States but their numbers are growing at a crawling pace.
In this nearly saturated market, companies are relying on
promotions to lure subscribers from one another.
T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T recently launched
device installment plans that separate the cost of devices from
the cost of service, prompting more customers to switch from
basic to smartphones.
While T-mobile still trails Sprint in total subscribers, the
numbers show that T-Mobile's price cuts and promotions are
working, Shah said.
"Sprint doesn't have that much demand to sell into," Shah
said in an interview. "They will have to up their strategy".
Apple and Samsung captured more than
two-thirds of the smartphone purchases in the quarter, with
Android making up 59 percent of shipments.
Apple phones were more popular with the two largest
carriers, AT&T and Verizon, while Samsung was the best
performing brand at T-Mobile.
Android's popularity with the smaller carriers is partially
because T-Mobile and Sprint were the last two major wireless
providers to carry Apple's iPhone, so their existing customer
base is more familiar with the android phone, said Shah.
(Reporting By Marina Lopes)