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Texas & California may see the largest dominant carrier post-merger-MetaFacts TUPdate

Texas & California may see the largest dominant carrier post-merger

A MetaFacts TUPdate by Dan Ness, Principal Analyst

With the prospective merger of AT&T and T-Mobile, would the combined dominant share be very different in some states than in others?

Also, will the fog of merger give competitors enough pause to secure their unique clienteles, and attract more of the same?

Nationwide, the combined share of the top three carriers would increase from just over two-thirds (68%) to nearly eight in ten (78%).

Post-merger Carrier Domination

In our most recent wave of Technology User Profile, we found that three carriers – Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobile, and T-Mobile, collectively hold a 68% share. This is based on the broadest active market – subscribers of mobile carriers using Smartphones or Basic Mobile Phones, with either contract or pre-paid agreements, and among online adults. Combining the subscriber share of AT&T Mobile and T-Mobile, this boosts Sprint into the top group, so that the top three carriers collectively command 78%.

There is a regional difference, in some cases due to the growing popularity of simpler more cost-effective prepaid agreements through MVNOs, and in other cases to the strength of regional operators.

The combined AT&T/T-Mobile share would be 50% or higher in two states: Texas with 55% and California with 50%.

In the Northeast, TracFone is popular enough to be included in the post-merger top 3 carriers, although with a distant 9% to AT&T/T-Mobile & Verizon’s collective 73%. TracFone’s Northeast share is buoyed by New York and Pennsylvania, where the 9% share is similarly far from the two leaders 70% and 73%, respectively.

Among the major states, Wisconsin is unique in the strength of regional carrier US Cellular, which holds a 19% share, even besting nationally-second Verizon. No other regionals have that position or share.

Across other states and regions, Sprint has a third-ranked position. In most key states, Sprint’s share is less than half of the second-ranked carrier.

Whether or not these heightened levels of market dominance constitute a problem will depend primarily on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ). One of their statistical tests for market concentration is the Herfindal-Hirschman Index (HHI) which summarizes the relative difference of shares. Industries with scores of more than 1,800 are considered concentrated. If post-merger, using our current market share results, Texas would have an HHI of 3,396, California  3,247, and New Jersey 3,208, up from 2,059, 2,154, and 2,547 respectively. Furthermore, the HHI would rise to 3,299 among contract subscribers and 1,716 among prepaid subscribers.

From the customer’s perspective we’ve gathered in findings of our TUP survey results, the usage profiles of AT&T and T-Mobile subscribers are different enough to show this will not be a simple merger. In fact, some customer usage types are unique enough they were already poised to seek better alternatives due to the way they use mobile wireless devices. That’s in addition to changes they might be considering beyond being triggered by the merger announcement, such as their satisfaction levels with customer service, their reception, or the complexity or costs of their subscription agreements.

Source

The results in this TUPdate are drawn from the MetaFacts Technology User Profile Survey. Results specific to this topic can be obtained through a customized report and analysis. Or contact MetaFacts for the MetaFacts Technology User Profile Overview Edition report, which covers the broader range of key trends. View findings in 25 pages of executive summary analysis, 200+ pages of charts and graphs, all supported by 95+ pages of detailed tables. The complete, 300+ page report is delivered to you electronically. This edition is for the U.S. based on the 2010 wave of Technology User Profile gathered among a scrupulously selected set of representative respondents, surveyed both online and offline.

To see other research coverage of Internet products and activities – from smartphones to feature phones, desktops to notebooks, social networking, demographics, and attitudes – see the many other questions TUP answers on www.technologyuser.com. Tech market research professionals who want a solid resource they can use immediately after industry events such as mergers, or even use prior to anticipated events, can license direct access to TUP.

About TUPdates

MetaFacts releases ongoing research on the market shifts and profiles for Smartphones, Netbooks, Mobile PCs, Workplace PCs, Home PCs, Web Creators, Broadband, and many other technology industry trends and facts. These TUPdates are short analytical articles in a series of specific topics utilizing the Technology User Profile Annual Edition study, which reveals the changing patterns of technology adoption around the world. Interested technology professionals can sign up at http://technologyuser.com/contact/ for complimentary TUPdates – periodic snapshots of technology markets.

About MetaFacts

MetaFacts, Inc. is a market research firm focusing exclusively on the technology industries. MetaFacts’ Technology User Profile (TUP) survey is the longest-running, large-scale comprehensive study of its kind, conducted continuously since 1983, the year before Apple released the Apple Macintosh. The detailed results are a primary market sizing and segmentation resource for leading companies providing consumer-oriented technology products and services, such as PCs, printers, software applications, peripherals, consumer electronics, mobile computing, and related services and products. TUP analyzes key trends and the data-rich source can be dived into more deeply for custom analysis. For more information about the syndicated research service, analysis tools, publications and datasets, contact MetaFacts at 1-760-635-4300.

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Filed under Consumer research, Market Research, Mobile Phones, Technology User Overview Report, TUP 2010

8.5 million Smartphone users intend to churn – reported in MetaFacts TUP survey

Chart: Carrier Churn by Mobile Phone Type

Carrier Churn by Mobile Phone Type

A MetaFacts TUPdate by Dan Ness, MetaFacts Principal Analyst

How strong are intentions to switch carriers, and does this vary by mobile phone type?

Intention to churn is a key concern for wireless carriers and handset manufacturers alike. Based on our most recent wave of Technology User Profile (TUP) surveys, 21% of Smartphone users intend to switch carriers when their contracts expire. This is based on over 7,000 representative respondents who regularly use a mobile phone and either agree or strongly agree with the statement: “I plan to switch carriers when my contract expires.”

Smartphone churn intention raters are a much higher churn rate than among basic feature phone users, with 14% planning to switch. Since there are so many basic mobile phone users, even at a lower rate, this group outnumbers Smartphone users, standing at 16 million subscribers poised to change.

There is the chance that when basic phone subscribers switch, they will move to a Smartphone. This is not a certainty, however, as many subscribers are finding ways to get their needs met with their basic feature phones. Also, switching to a Smartphone is not the only reason subscribers switch carriers, they also report dissatisfaction with customer service and unsatisfying network coverage. In the report, we specify how much lower network and customer service satisfaction is among AT&T and T-Mobile subscribers than other carriers such as Verizon.

Furthermore, pre-paid subscriptions are on the rise, as subscribers let their fingers do the walking to exercise their dissatisfaction with the restrictions of term plans. Brands and sub-brand such as Net10 and Straight Talk offered in WalMart through MVNO America Movil are just one example of likely rapid entrants to join the fray of prepaid brands TracFone, Virgin, Leap and others.

Analysis

Consumers are fickle, and vote with their pocketbooks. Once they start considering defecting from a carrier, they look at competitive handsets served by other carriers, just as they have in the past. Now, however, more subscribers have broadened their consideration set to include pre-paid agreements. Also, we expect some Smartphone users to retreat back to basic mobile phones, due in part to overwhelm with complex & costly agreements, or with the handsets and apps themselves. Although any market movement away from Smartphones may be considered heresy by fanboys and early tech adopters, many regular people consider anything with thousands of apps and hundreds of features to be an overcomplicating negative.

From the changes evident from high churn intention and low satisfaction rates, the outlook is for a continued fracturing of the mobile phone market. The early adopters with Smartphones will form the bulk of a Smartphone replacement market as concerned carriers placate them with newer handsets. Meanwhile, they will also be heavily courted by competitors, so may defect even before their plans terminate. At the other end of the spectrum, the segment of pre-paid plan basic mobile phone users will continue to attract defectors from plans they see as onerous, carriers they are dissatisfied with, or from phones they see as overly complicated. MetaFacts expects less activity from other segments in the near term.

Most certain today is that mobile phone users express resistance to having their phones pried from their fingers. Most do, however, plan to change carriers, handsets, subscription plans, and how they use them.

Source

MetaFacts Technology User Profile Overview Edition – report available by contacting MetaFacts. View findings in 25 pages of executive summary analysis, 200+ pages of charts and graphs, all supported by 95+ pages of detailed tables. The complete, 300+ page report is delivered to you electronically. This edition is for the U.S. based on the 2010 wave of Technology User Profile gathered among a scrupulously selected set of representative respondents, surveyed both online and offline.

To see other research coverage of communication products and activities – from smartphones to feature phones, desktops to notebooks, social networking, chat, and webcams – see the other communication-oriented questions TUP covers on www.technologyuser.com.

About TUPdates

MetaFacts releases ongoing research on the market shifts and profiles for Smartphones, Netbooks, Windows Vista, Mobile PCs, Workplace PCs, Home PCs, Moms and Dads, Web Creators, Broadband, and many other technology industry trends and facts. These TUPdates are short analytical articles in a series of specific topics utilizing the Technology User Profile Annual Edition study, which reveals the changing patterns of technology adoption around the world. Interested technology professionals can sign up at http://technologyuser.com/contact/ for complimentary TUPdates – periodic snapshots of technology markets.

About MetaFacts

MetaFacts, Inc. is a market research firm focusing exclusively on the technology industries. MetaFacts’ Technology User Profile survey is the longest-running, large-scale comprehensive study of its kind, conducted continuously since 1983, the year before Apple released the Apple Macintosh. The detailed results are a primary market sizing and segmentation resource for leading companies providing consumer-oriented technology products and services, such as PCs, printers, software applications, peripherals, consumer electronics, mobile computing, and related services and products. For more information about the syndicated research service, analysis tools, publications and datasets, contact MetaFacts at 1-760-635-4300.

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Filed under Consumer research, Market Research, MetaFAQs, Mobile Phones, Technology User Overview Report, TUP 2010, TUPdate