Apple’s dip in iPhone sales might not be entirely because consumers are finally figuring out when the new iPhone comes out. AT&T might be talking users out of the iPhone and towards Windows Phone and Android.
According to BGR, AT&T employees are now instructed to steer customers in stores away from the iPhone, instead pushing those users to Android or Windows Phones. Even when customers come into AT&T asking for and iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S employees show the potential users other phones so the customer can “make an informed decision.”
In some areas, AT&T employees can’t even select an iPhone as their company-issued phone. They instead have to choose a Windows Phone like the Nokia Lumia 900 or any of the plethora of Android devices.
Update: AT&T issued a statement saying this report “couldn’t be more farfetched.”
“The idea that we would steer any customer away from a particular device couldn’t be more farfetched. Our reps do what it takes to align customer needs with the best device for them. iPhone remains one of our most popular devices, which doesn’t happen by steering people away from it. Our reps are encouraged to try all devices so they are more knowledgeable on our industry-leading smartphone lineup.”
According to one BGR source, after the AT&T employees were given the instructions to not sell the iPhone, Apple’s phone sales dropped dramatically. In the source’s area the iPhone made up about 80 percent of all smartphone sales. After the new rules came into effect, sales dropped to between 50 and 60 percent of smartphone sales in the region.
That’s a pretty significant drop, and if the rules are true, it certainly explains why iPhone sales stalled a bit in the last quarter. The iPhone still accounted for 72 percent of smartphone sales on AT&T last quarter, but it may have accounted for more without these rules.
We don’t know why AT&T decided to push subscribers away from the iPhone, but it might be related to the recent story of Verizon employees pushing Android phones over the iPhone because it lacks 4G LTE or tied to iPhone subsidies.
Maybe AT&T will make employees push Apple again when the iPhone 5 launches. Or maybe consumers will just want to buy the first iPhone with 4G LTE without the help of an AT&T store employee.