It’s official: Your carrier is pushing you to buy a Samsung phone over an iPhone

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It’s something we’ve long suspected but now we finally have
the proof we need: Your wireless carrier wants to push you to
buy a Samsung smartphone over an iPhone
. Kantar Worldpanel has just released a new study (PDF)
confirming reports that we’ve long heard about carriers trying
to steer their customers away from the iPhone and toward rival
devices — most prominently, Samsung’s.
In a survey of smartphone buyers in the United States, Kantar
found that “63% of consumers who bought a device in [Q1
2014] were recommended a Samsung device, more than
double the rate of recommendation for Apple, and almost 10
times more than Nokia.” Kantar found that this had an
enormous impact on Samsung sales as well because “59% of
buyers who were recommended a Samsung phone went
ahead and bought one while the rest opted for other vendors
in the Android ecosystem.” Meanwhile, “only 6% of consumers
who were recommended Samsung walked out of the store
with an iPhone.”
Why, exactly, are carriers doing this? It’s not exactly a
conspiracy so much as it’s rational self-interest. The iPhone
carries a very high subsidy cost for carriers, who are
concerned about Apple racking up too much market power.
After all, if the iPhone becomes more popular than it already is,
then it gives Apple leverage to push for even stronger carrier
subsidies.
This is exacerbated by the fact that iPhone customers are the
most fanatically loyal smartphone users around — once
they’ve been converted they don’t even think of trying other
devices.
“Consumers purchasing Apple’s iPhone models are the ones
doing the least amount of pre-purchase research,” Kantar
writes, because Apple fans just know that they’re going to get
an iPhone and don’t need anyone’s recommendations.
What’s puzzling here, however, is why carriers are leaning so
heavily on Samsung. After all, Samsung phones carry very
hefty subsidies as well — you would think that Verizon, AT&T
and friends would be keen on pushing high-quality phones
from Nokia, HTC and LG as well to further level out the playing
field.