T-Mobile CEO John Legere likes to blow a lot of hot air about his company sparking a “revolution” within the wireless industry, which is a claim that we’ve often treated with skepticism. However, new research from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) suggests that there may actually be some substance behind Legere’s boasts.
Specifically, CIRP has found that T-Mobile’s Jump early smartphone upgrade plan has been a big hit with customers and has helped T-Mobile retain “a much higher percentage of customers than the other carriers” while “attracting more customers from other carriers than they lost to other carriers.”
In all CIRP found that T-Mobile retained around 98% of all customers who were eligible for a smartphone upgrade and who started financing a new phone in the second half of 2013. In contrast, only two-thirds of Verizon and AT&T subscribers who were in the same situation stayed with their carriers while more than 20% of them switched to T-Mobile.
“T-Mobile retained an incredible number of customers, with almost all T-Mobile customers that had a financing plan remaining with that carrier,” says CIRP cofounder Mike Levin. “T-Mobile also attracted a significant number of customers from AT&T and Verizon, rather than just from smaller regional and pre-paid carriers.”
More broadly, CIRP found that T-Mobile’s “Uncarrier” plans are quickly changing the way we pay for smartphones: 13% of Verizon customers, 16% of AT&T customers and 18% of Sprint customers who were eligible for new phones decided to take advantage of their carriers’ new early upgrade plans. In this way, consumers are shifting more toward paying monthly increments on their mobile device so they can upgrade sooner instead of agreeing to two-year wireless contracts.
“Led by T-Mobile, these financing programs now often resemble leasing, where customers pay monthly for a phone,” explains CIRP cofounder Josh Lowitz. “So, customers either own the phone at the end of the lease term, or return it to the carrier and start paying for a new phone… In the first six months since T-Mobile ended subsidies, and the other major carriers followed, a considerable number of eligible customers have embraced the concept.”