Interesting article from Thomas Gryta in the Wall Street Journal last week:1
Since the early days of Apple Inc.’s iPhone, most customers have avoided paying for the full price for the latest model. But the success of AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. since 2013 in shifting customers into plans that force them to pay the full price for devices — and separate that cost from monthly service fees — has consumers holding on to their devices longer.
Citigroup estimates the phone-replacement cycle will stretch to 29 months for the first half of 2016, up from 28 months in the fourth quarter of 2015 and the typical range of 24 to 26 months seen during the two prior years.
Since the separation of phone and plan is fairly common throughout the rest of the world, this basically means that the American phone replacement cycle is more closely aligning with that of a lot of other places.
Perhaps that provides an incentive for Apple to more rapidly iterate on the industrial design of their flagship iPhone models instead of the tick-tock pattern they’ve held to since the 3G.
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