The third quarter was rough for Verizon.
During the three months ended September 30, the carrier’s retail postpaid net additions dropped a whopping 65 percent year over year to just 442,000 and net postpaid phone additions specifically totaled a loss of 36,000. And while the number of retail postpaid connections increased by 3 percent year over year, Verizon’s total number of retail postpaid accounts actually saw a first-ever contraction of 0.4 percent.
But there may be a light on the horizon.
A new report from Civic Science – which surveys consumers to track trends in wireless carrier subscriptions – indicates Verizon could rebound in the fourth quarter thanks to sales of the iPhone 7.
In the run up to Verizon’s troubled third quarter (and, before that, leading up to its less-than-stellar second quarter as well), Civic Science said it noticed fewer survey respondents reported Verizon as their wireless carrier. The trend, Civic Science said, began in February with a slow taper before dropping off more sharply between April and early October.
However, the group noted consumer mentions of Verizon leveled out in October and began to rebound in November. Why? Well, let’s just say Apple may be saving Verizon’s skin.
Civic Science said its data indicates only 38 percent of Verizon subscribers reported owning an iPhone in the two months leading up to the iPhone 7’s launch. In the two months after September 15, that ownership figure jumped 5 percent to 43 percent.
“A 5 percent net jump is a big number for a company of Verizon’s scale,” Civic Science noted in its report. “It’s true that some of those percentage gains may be attributable to a decline in Samsung ownership among Verizon’s customer base, due to the much-publicized travails of the Note 7. But the Verizon’s free iPhone trade-in promotion certainly drove up sales in the early weeks of the products availability.”
The group said time will tell if the iPhone 7 was a quick fix or a long term solution, but the stakes are certainly high in the fourth quarter.
Verizon, which has steadfastly refused to offer consumers an unlimited option, is up against three competitors that all offer unlimited – not to mention a slew holiday deals meant to steal share from the carrier.
Can they hack it? We’ll have to wait and see.