The latest research on smartphone sales shows consumer purchases of prepaid devices surging while sales of phones purchased with contracts is basically flat. NPD Group says that during the second quarter, sales of prepaid smartphones were up 91% from the year-ago quarter.
Postpaid phone sales may not be growing, but they still account for 82% of U.S. smartphone sales, according to NPD. And the two top manufacturers, Apple and Samsung, still dominate the market.
Notably, the research shows Apple with a comfortable lead over Samsung in retail smartphone sales. Apple had 31% vs. Samsung’s 24%. But these numbers may be poised to flip-flop; during the second quarter Samsung sold an estimated 52 million smartphones to distributors, versus Apple’s 26 million.
Both Apple and Samsung are reaching prepaid phone buyers. Cricket offers a prepaid iPhone 4S as does Virgin Mobile. Several major U.S. carriers offer prepaid plans for various Samsung smartphones. “Carriers have been smart to aggressively market some of their best current smartphones on a pre-paid basis to a new set of customers, in order to keep sales humming along,” says Stephen Baker, head of industry analysis at NPD Group.
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