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Mobile carriers sell more iPhones than Apple retail stores

iPhone 14

Apple's online sales and retail stores combine to be the leading seller of iPads and Macs, but the company falls behind carriers in iPhone sales.

The latest report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners examined data from Apple customers to get a sense of how Apple retail and online stores factor into purchases of the iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

For example, Apple's retail operations are the leading seller of iPads and Macs in the US but sell less than 40% in each case. In this study. CIRP has combined Apple retail stores and what it estimates are online store sales.

Mobile phone carriers are responsible for the most iPhone sales by a wide margin, accounting for at least two-thirds of sales in any given quarter.

Apple product sales numbers as of December 2022. Source: CIRP
Apple product sales numbers as of December 2022. Source: CIRP

The strong sales are likely likely due to cellular plan upgrade offers and other discounts, as well as installment plans. Some carriers will spread the cost of an iPhone further than Apple Card Monthly Installments.

Carriers have also seen a growth in iPad sales since they promote adding devices to existing mobile phone accounts.

However, Apple is still the leader in iPad sales at 29%, followed by Amazon at 23%. Apple is also the leading seller of Mac computers at 39%, with Best Buy not far behind in that category.

In the end, while Apple is a strong manufacturer, it still needs to rely on other companies to sell its products. For example, the company needs mobile carriers for iPhone sales and cellular service, and Amazon and Best Buy are also essential partners for Mac and iPad sales.

It's not clear how accurate the Apple-direct figures are. Apple hasn't reported sales volumes in years.