How important is Apple’s iPhone to AT&T, its exclusive U.S. carrier, and Verizon Wireless, the carrier that doesn’t have it?
Here’s one clue: Take a look at each carrier’s churn rate — the rate at which customers leave the service — since the iPhone 3G rolled out, argues Turley Muller, Apple analyst and author of the Financial Alchemist blog.
After Apple released the iPhone, AT&T’s churn rate has fallen, while the churn rate for Verizon has grown. (Specifically, this is “postpaid” churn — subscribers lost during a month who were on long-term contracts.)
In an email, Muller writes, “Churn for iPhone users is extremely low. I think it would have been much rougher for AT&T through the downturn in the economy if the iPhone wasn’t there as a significant counter weight.”
You can also see in this chart that since Verizon rolled out its line of Google Android phones at the end of last year, its churn rate has begun falling once again. (And even though its churn rate has increased in recent years, it’s still not higher than AT&T’s.)
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