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Study says one in three iPhone 4s is on Verizon

by Phil Hornshaw

Despite being in the game for eight months longer and the backing of three iPhones’ worth of returning customers, it seems AT&T lost a significant amount of the potential iPhone market to Verizon this year.

That’s according to market analysis firm Localytics, which has released a study that says 32 percent of iPhone 4s in the U.S. run on Verizon’s network. MobileBeat has the story, which states that if the study is accurate, it shows that there really was quite a demand for the Verizon alternative, both from customers already with iPhones on AT&T and from those who had been waiting for the phone to leap to another network.

AT&T hasn’t released any recent figures about iPhone 4s on its network, but Verizon said in April it had sold 2.2 million iPhones. Localytics gets its numbers by measuring app usage and tracing back which phone those apps are being used on – the hardware in AT&T iPhones is different than in the Verizon ones, because AT&T requires a GSM cellular radio while Verizon uses CDMA.

We do know that AT&T sold 3.6 million iPhones during the first quarter of 2011, but that also includes the $50 iPhone 3GS. Localytics’ data shows that Verizon’s marketshare on the iPhone jumped from 20 percent in February, when the device launched, to 26 percent by May, and then up to 32 percent by July. “Localytics believes many consumers jumped to Verizon to take advantage of its unlimited data plan, which the company is scheduled to stop supporting today for new customers,” the Mobile Beat story says. AT&T hasn’t offered unlimited data since last year, but it does allow existing unlimited data customers to keep it until they switch to a different plan.

Financial analyst thinks Apple deal with Sprint likely

As long as we’re talking about iPhone carriers, it appears that with Verizon eliminating its unlimited data plan today that Sprint-Nextel is the only one to still offer the unlimited option. That leads one market analyst from Citadel Securities to conclude that a deal between the two might be in their future.

The story comes from Barron’s, which details the opinion of analyst Shing Yin. Yin believes Sprint could have the iPhone by Christmas, since providing unlimited data is something Apple wants for the iPhone and Verizon and AT&T couldn’t hold back a Sprint phone with exclusivity agreements because of “legal reasons.”

Here’s a quote from Barron’s:

With lower prices on plans, a Sprint iPhone ‘could offer an attractive proposition for more price-conscious users (a demographic that we think is increasingly important to Apple following the rise of Android),’ and ‘could be a relatively stronger seller than the Verizon iPhone,’ writes Yin.

This is just the opinion of one analyst looking at the market, so keep your granulated salt handy, but it is an intriguing idea. We’ve also heard some rumors that Apple might be considering a cheaper iPhone in order to capture more of the market, as well as to go after prepaid customers. A Sprint iPhone could fall in line with that information.

If Yin is right, we’ll be hearing about the Sprint iPhone in a matter of months. If it’s going to happen, I’d expect to hear about it sometime around when the iPhone 5 is announced. But that’s a pretty big “if.”