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Apple Watch Boosts Verizon Activations Amid Phone and Tablet Subscriber Loss

Verizon, the largest carrier in the United States by subscriber count, saw a monthly subscriber increase of 260,000 during the first quarter of 2018, reports Bloomberg, largely due to an increased number of smart watch activations.

The company actually lost phone and tablet subscribers last quarter, but the dip in subscribers did not hurt its bottom line because of smart watches, wearables, and other connected devices like vehicles.

Image via Bloomberg

Verizon says it added a total of 359,000 subscribers who are using smart watches and other devices during the quarter, making up for the loss of 24,000 phone customers and 75,000 tablet customers.

There was no breakdown in the number of activations by specific device, but Verizon's jump in smart watch subscribers comes following the September release of the Apple Watch Series 3, the first Apple Watch with LTE connectivity.

The Apple Watch Series 3 allows customers to use the Apple Watch sans iPhone for the first time, as it has its own cellular connection. Verizon and other carriers charge customers $10 per month to add a smart watch to an existing smartphone plan.

Verizon shared the numbers during its first quarter 2018 earnings results, released this morning. Verizon stock has since surged as much as 3.6 percent.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4, watchOS 5
Tag: Verizon
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)


Top Rated Comments

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16 weeks ago

I don't think people stay with their cellular watch plan long. It's fun for a while then people realize they're wasting money on it.


My exact experience. I wanted stainless, didn't care about LTE. Figured I'd try it because of Verizon's promotion, but... All the apps I use regularly on the watch require a connection to my iPhone to function, so... What's the point? Some future watchOS that allows watch apps to operate more independently from the iPhone would make this really compelling. But then again, so would a first party Podcasts watch app, and we're all still holding our collective breath for that one.

So, right now, it's $10 a month so that I can make and recieve phone calls (which I do maybe twice a month, max), and stream Apple Music in the rare event that I go for an outdoor run somewhere that has good LTE coverage. Not really worth it. At least I get a bright red crown so I can let other people know that I have the new hotness.
Rating: 9 Votes
16 weeks ago
I don't think people stay with their cellular watch plan long. It's fun for a while then people realize they're wasting money on it.
Rating: 7 Votes
16 weeks ago
People might be trying it out, in the end it’s not going to succeed at the ridiculous $10 a month, especially with ‘increasing’ iPhone costs. It should be $5 and in cases where it’s the same as their phone plan but accessible via the watch, it should be free or at the very most $1 a month.
Rating: 5 Votes
16 weeks ago
Wow, what a way to spin things, all of those watch activations are people who still have phones on Verizon, otherwise the watch service won't work anyway. So ultimately this means that while people added watches, overall they still lost subscribers, they just got some subscribers to add watches.
Rating: 2 Votes
16 weeks ago
I wonder if the subcontracting aspects of these wireless providers impacts their numbers. I have Xfinity Mobile, uses Verizon wireless network, how does the number of Xfinity Mobile users count? ;)
Rating: 1 Votes
16 weeks ago

How much does Verizon charge for Apple Watch cellular service? Not just the $10 monthly fee, but the total cost including various taxes and fees tacked on to the monthly charge?

Also, is there an initial fee, like a “new device connection fee” or some such? I think Verizon charges a one time fee around $30 to add an iPad to one’s cellular plan. Is there a fee like that for adding an AW to your plan? How much is the fee?


Total cost of an AW, pulled from my VZW account page just now:



Their "Line Access Charge" is a flat $30, same as an iPad. When I got it, they had a promotion running where they were waiving the fee and the first three months of service if you activated a new Watch during some set timeframe. That may have ended, but I wouldn't be surprised if they kept it going or ran more promotions like it.

Rating: 1 Votes
16 weeks ago

Consumers generally aren't on contracts anymore for phones, so they can just buy a phone themselves and swap in their SIM card, or call up GSM models to ge their service transferred. Sounds like there are deals going on with watches though, so go figure.


If they continue to lose subscribers the old contracts and subsidized phones will make a come back to “lock” them in. Just you wait and watch...
Rating: 1 Votes
16 weeks ago

My exact experience...

So, right now, it's $10 a month so that I can make and recieve phone calls (which I do maybe twice a month, max), and stream Apple Music in the rare event that I go for an outdoor run somewhere that has good LTE coverage. Not really worth it. At least I get a bright red crown so I can let other people know that I have the new hotness.


I know everyone has their own use case, but my experience has been quite the opposite. I’m on the lake quite a bit with my jet ski, and LOVE the fact that I can stay in touch having nothing but my watch on me. Well that and a wetsuit. ;)
Rating: 1 Votes
16 weeks ago
The cellular companies hated subsidizing all those iPh es and the premium Androids. But the thing is, it kept me logged into AT&T for years, with my Steve Jobs original account. It tied people in. Now, people are happing in and out like crazy. Since I left AT&T two years ago, I've been with T-Mobile, then I switched to Virgin and took advantage of a plan where the first 6 months would cost you $1 a month. Kept the old iPhone 6 going. Six months and $6 later, I decided to go for the iPhone X. I went to Sprint but then immediately a T-Mobile plan to get two lines and each one costs $35. So I got the iPhone X for $30 a month plus $35 for my line, unlimited everything, and MLB.tv for free. You know, they probably would have done better to give us the phones on the front end and get us paying for it in the back end. You didn't used to be able to switch phones when you felt like it. You could pay after you paid for 23 months. Now, my plan means if I like, I can switch to a newer phone-- the 9, anyone? the XI? -- after a year. To be clear, the relationship with the popular phones was monopolistic. You had to keep the phone, and the network, until it was paid off. Not any more. Guess that special deal you made with Jobs wasn't so bad, after all. And the lost 24,000 phones and tablets? The gaining of hundreds of thousands of phones and tablets is not as important as the leaving of 24,000.
Rating: 1 Votes
16 weeks ago

I know everyone has their own use case, but my experience has been quite the opposite. I’m on the lake quite a bit with my jet ski, and LOVE the fact that I can stay in touch having nothing but my watch on me. Well that and a wetsuit. ;)


That does sound like the perfect use case! Seriously, I bet Apple has considered using a jet ski in an add for the watch. Me, I'm glad I went cell free since even when I take the occasional jog, I carry my phone.
Rating: 1 Votes

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