According to new data, purchases of unlocked smartphones in the U.S. saw massive growth in 2015. While unlocked phones made up only 9% of total smartphone shipments last year, that represents 14.6 million phones, or 140% growth over 2014. Companies leading the unlocked charge in the U.S. include BLU, Apple, and Motorola.
From Strategy Analytics:
"BLU shipped 5.2 million unlocked smartphones for the number one spot in the US in 2015, growing 160 percent annually from 2.0 million units in 2014. The Florida-based company has been growing rapidly in the US unlocked smartphone market due to extensive distribution channels like Amazon and BestBuy and popular Android unlocked models like the Studio 6.0 model. Apple also ramped up volumes quickly in the US unlocked smartphone, market driven by the iPhone Upgrade Program launched in Q3 2015. We tracked 1.8 million unlocked iPhones sold in the US in 2015, dramatically up from 0.7 million units in 2014, growing 157 percent annually."
BLU ended up with 35.6% of the unlocked market, up from 32.8% in 2014, while Apple went from 11.5% to 12.3%, and Motorola ended up with 9.6%, up from 1.6%. Strategy Analytics also observed that unlocked phones are the fastest-growing segment of the mobile market in the U.S., and they forecast 23 million unlocked phones will be sold in the U.S. in 2016.