Looking back on 2015 with just a week’s hindsight, it’s clear that there were a couple of notable trends that had taken shape and gained momentum over the past year or so and, gathering a full head of steam, came to the fore in 2015.
1. T-Mobile Shakes It Up
With all the jockeying for position and one upsmanship by the major carriers, it’s safe to say that 2015 turned out to be the year of the un-carrier carrier. T-Mobile started shaking up the wireless industry snow globe back in 2013 with disruptive talk of ditching handset subsidies. It then proceeded to do just that, ditching subsidies and shaking up the industry. And in the process leapfrogged past Sprint, one of the subsidy holdouts, to become the 3rd largest carrier in 2015.
T-Mobile’s aggressive attack on AT&T and Verizon, targeting their business customers with new and more simple rate plans also disrupted the old guard’s revenue model. And it capped the year off with its Binge On unlimited data video streaming which is bringing it an increase in rates as well as an increase in subscribers. According to Fierce Wireless, T-Mobile posted the largest postpaid net adds in the industry for five consecutive quarters.
2. Taking A Contract Out On The 2 Year Contract
The hit was put out on postpaid and executed on the 2 year contract, which is now almost completely dead. Contract stalwarts AT&T and Verizon dropped them mid year and Sprint isn’t far behind. The industry has pretty much ditched them in favor of Equipment Installment Plans. Consumers can pay monthly installments for a lease or a purchase and trade in the device or keep it when the term ends. Carriers have been looking to make up the shortfall with extra fees, higher activation fees and fees to launch services.
What’s notable is that Verizon’s bailing on contracts and subsidies and its adoption of simplified pricing according to data allocation and a flat $20 fee per smartphone for unlimited voice and text led it to a turn around, posting bigger gross and net additions and lower churn.
3. Super Sized Fabulous Phablets & Wireless Wearables
iPhone 6 led the charge as phablet sales skyrocketed this year. Phablets accounted for approximately 21% of device sales in the first quarter and 27% at Christmas, zooming to a total of 40% of all device sales for the year.
Wearables finally became fashionable as smartwatches and fitbits have hit the mainstream. 80 million units shipped and wearable tech is finding its way into just about everything, from health and fitness, virtual reality, sports to payments, to name a few. Americans spent upwards of $4.25 billion on wearables, an increase of 93% over 2014.
As we head into 2016, it will be interesting to see what trends continue and what surprises are in store.
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