Apple Inc. (AAPL): Why Carriers Favor The iPhone

Apple Inc. (AAPL): Why Carriers Favor The iPhone
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Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) certainly gets a lot of attention from consumers, but why are carriers so ga-ga over it? Surprisingly, it might be less about how popular the iPhone itself is with consumers and more about the direct benefits carriers receive from iPhone users. It could be all about the data, particularly for carriers which still cap users’ data plans.

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Apple iPhone users use more data

As it turns out, a study indicates that users of Apple’s iPhone use more data than users of other smartphones. CNET points to data from Actix, which measures communications from smartphone owners in North America and Europe.

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The firm found that during 2013, the top three most-used phones were the iPhone 4S, the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 4. Of course can you guess what the fourth, fifth and sixth most-used phones were? They were all Samsung’s: the Galaxy S3, followed by the Galaxy S2 and then the Galaxy S4.

How Actix came up with the numbers

The ranking of the phones is based on how many people used their phones during a number of monitoring times each lasting one hour throughout the year in both Europe and North America. On average, there were 20,608 iPhone 4 users every hour, followed closely by the iPhone 5, with 20,539 users. The iPhone 4 had 17,880 users per hour, while the next-closest phone—the Samsung Galaxy S3—had fewer than 8,000 users an hour. The monitoring periods were spread out all through 2013, which is why the newer phones, like the iPhone 5S and 5C, aren’t toward the top of the list.

So even though Android phones outsell Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s iPhone globally according to statistics about market share, carriers really care more about who’s actually using their phones. This information from Actix shows which phones are using most of the network’s power. It also shows how different phones differ in the amounts of data they consume and also how often they check into the carrier’s network for calls and transmitting data.

What the data suggests

According to the statistics, newer phones appear to use more data, probably because those who bought them want to use their phones more and they are on networks which are faster and newer. Also they usually have screens with higher resolution than older phones, which would eat up more data. Looking at a per-person basis, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) users from one year use more data than the flagship Android phone from Samsung released that same year.

Also phones with larger screens seem to download more data, probably because they have higher resolution screens.

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Michelle Jones is editor-in-chief for and has been with the site since 2012. Previously, she was a television news producer for eight years. She produced the morning news programs for the NBC affiliates in Evansville, Indiana and Huntsville, Alabama and spent a short time at the CBS affiliate in Huntsville. She has experience as a writer and public relations expert for a wide variety of businesses. Email her at
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  1. This article makes ZERO sense, at least the way the US carrier market operates. Almost ALL users pay for a SET data plan of appx $20 to $25 per month. The carriers have to pay for additional infrastructure to service people who use more data than those who use less data.
    Therefore, Carriers in US like users who use LESS data NOT those who use more data.

    Now in other countries carriers may charge for actual data use, rather than offer plans the way it most people in the US use their phones.

    In the US carrier must subsidize the COST of the phone, but the data plan is priced the same.

    So, more expensive phones such as Apple’s iPhone are LESS profitable to the carriers, than lower priced phones.

  2. “Is that what this poorly written article is trying to get at?”
    I hope she’s just starting out (I really hope she learns from this.) May be she’ll edit this piece before including it in her portfolio.

  3. Samsung earns $47 trillion dollars annually from Android device sales up by 1.7%. Hm, let’s look at your data in question. Now the numbers become rather large, so well brief the comparatives. Obviously, your information is supposing that more iPhones are used for making calls, than Android phones; that alone shows an interesting point because Androids phones are data phones and considering carrier data plans don’t include call per minute rates, your information can’t be accurate because there’s no way to map a data phone call comparison to a non-data phone call, on a data only plan offered from a broadband mobile telecom: Verizon, Sprint, T-mobile.

    “The firm found that during 2013, the top three most-used phones were the iPhone 4S, the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 4. Of course can you guess what the fourth, fifth and sixth most-used phones were? They were all Samsung’s: the Galaxy S3, followed by the Galaxy S2 and then the Galaxy S4.”

    Who’s the firm CNET or Actix? Through-out the entire article, you included no comparative research, which means you researched nothing!

    Sweetheart, you could’ve used common sense against that information and as journalist, you should’ve known that each time Apple receives publicized bad news about their devices or services because they’re all bundled, Apple PR department pushes false data; so many people can’t even follow the numbers. Journalist teach journalist about this kind of fluff and not to swing those kind of numbers as “data” unless there’s a person in that company that’s quoting it (you need a name.) Otherwise, your credibility has just been trashed!

  4. So Iphone users BUY more expensive data packages with larger caps? Is that what this poorly written article is trying to get at? Apple products are easier for old people and busy, technology-challenged people to use. They are well designed and made with premium materials. For a time, they were a kind of status symbol. I don’t doubt that folks most concerned with these things don’t pay a lot of attention to price tags or spend much time shopping for a better deal.

    Iphones are not ‘newer’ than other phones in any sense. New Android phones come out all the time. While Apple was the first to really popularize the smartphone and the touchscreen interface, it has done precious little innovating since then. Iphones look and function pretty much the same as when they arrived in 2007. Iphone still features tiny screens and many Android models feature higher resolution, so I can’t see how those support this theory.

    My local carrier offered mostly Iphones, with a very limited variety of Android phones. I decided to pay cash for a carrier unlocked version of the Android phone I wanted, and I went to Straight Talk for $45 a month unlimited nation-wide talk/text +2.5 GB high speed data. If I chew through my cap, I get knocked back to 2-G speeds until the next month of service is bought. I have auto-pay set up, so I don’t have to do anything. I paid $500 out-of-pocket for my phone. Over 2 years my service and phone come to $65 a month. Just unlimited nation-wide talk/text alone at my old carrier is $75 a month, so switching to Straight Talk was a no-brainer. I could spend more money to get a ‘free’ Iphone and suffer monthly financial rape at the hands of wireless carriers, but why should I?

  5. What the data suggests…..
    It suggests the iPhone dials home without the users knowledge and also suggests turning data off doesnt actually work… Of which has always been the case….(a well known fact to any savvy person) One of the reasons I ditched my old iPhone

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