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Mobile Market Research & Business Solutions

The U.S. smartphone market is shifting, and shifting quickly. Not only has the marketplace become saturated, wireless carriers are talking about ending their subsidy model. Now combine that with only two dominant OS platforms and a lack of product innovation. It all means consumers are faced with less choice and fewer reasons to trade up.

To understand the shifting mobile phone market and find the most promising opportunities for your business, look to our consumer and point-of-sale (POS) retail tracking information. Paired with our analysts’ expert perspectives it delivers unmatched insights into consumers’ purchasing behavior and their mindset. Our U.S. mobile phone market research includes model-level sales information for basic phones, messaging phones, and smartphones, as well as mobile phone accessories.

With these robust data assets and industry expertise we can provide solutions that include market assessment, benchmarking and competitive assessment, retailer and carrier collaboration, sales planning and analysis, and forecasting and production. 


Retail Tracking

Our POS data for mobile accessories has expanded. Coverage now includes all four major U.S. carriers. This unprecedented market view provides the information your go-to-market decisions demand:

  • Place bets on the next device launch or measure the execution of current business based on how you and your retailers go to market.
  • Evaluate and execute against category, brand, and item performance. For example, mobile phone cases are the largest mobile accessories category – where do you rank?
  • Ensure your products are priced properly. Did you know there is potential growth on the higher end of the ASP spectrum? Where do you fit in?

Gauge the importance of attachment rate, which continues to grow. How you forecast for these rates can have a dramatic impact on your business

Mobile Phone Track

Mobile Phone Track delivers detailed insight on current mobile handset trends to help you uncover growth opportunities. Delve into consumers’ purchasing behavior and mindset with monthly, model-level tracking of U.S. wireless handset sales. Companies use this information to analyze sales by manufacturer, brand, retail channel, and wireless carrier so they can track purchase and usage patterns and examine market performance of specific features.

Wireless at Retail Report

Analyze the mobile phone market with quarterly reports that cover where and why consumers acquire mobile phones and how acquisition differs by channel and key retailers. Based on Mobile Phone Track consumer data, this report delivers detail on top-selling devices and the channels/retailers consumers consider most important and why, plus complete demographic profiles of consumers shopping in specific channels and retailers.

Connected Intelligence

Gain the insight, analysis, and data you need to master today’s revolutionary new connected marketplace. Our industry analysts cover the complete connectivity landscape including market conditions, consumer behaviors, emerging technology, and more. Discover the emergent marketplace with Connected Intelligence’s focused analysis on innovation, adoption, availability, and application.

Visit the Connected Intelligence website.

Store-Level Enabled Retail Tracking

Store-Level Enabled Retail Tracking complements our national Retail Tracking Service– it can help you determine whether sales are distribution-driven or whether certain parts of the country are contributing more to national share or driving growth. The velocity measure set that is part of Store-Level Enabled Retail Tracking takes into consideration sales volume (Annualized Industry Volume or AIV) rather than considering store count alone, for a more meaningful read on where products are selling and how they are performing.

Analytic Solutions

NPD’s Analytic Solutions group includes senior leaders with extensive experience developing and delivering analytic solutions that help clients predict areas of risk and growth to improve marketing and product development. By combining NPD’s unique data assets and industry expertise with state-of-the-discipline research techniques and proprietary solutions, our Analytic Solutions team is able to answer clients’ most pressing business questions.


Press Releases

July 11, 2018

The Average Upgrade Cycle of a Smartphone in the U.S. is 32 Months, According to NPD Connected Intelligence

According to the latest NPD Connected Intelligence Mobile Connectivity Report, the average U.S. smartphone upgrade cycle is 32 months, up from 25 months one year prior (2H 2017 vs. 2H 2016). The report also finds that the prepaid segment continues to record the shortest upgrade cycle, due in part to affordable pricing and high churn.

April 6, 2018

Wireless Charging Mat Sales Receive a Boost in the U.S., As Consumers Look to Cut the Charging Cord

New smartphones often deliver growth opportunities in the mobile accessories space. Growth in wireless charging in Q4 2017 is a prime example.

March 6, 2017

Online’s Impact and Shifting Shopping Dynamics Resulted in Steady 2016 Apparel Sales Growth, Reports NPD

January 27, 2016

More Than 1-in-5 Shoppers Used a Mobile Device During the Holiday Season, Reports NPD

More than 1-in-5 consumers purchased or browsed for products online via a mobile device when holiday shopping for themselves or others, according to global information company The NPD Group. That number was double among Millennial consumers, between the ages of 18 and 34.


August 6, 2018

Wireless Charging Has the Mobile Industry Buzzing

Wireless charging mat sales are getting a boost in the U.S., thanks in part to new products that allow consumers to charge their phones wirelessly. Sales in the fourth quarter of 2017 accounted for 60% of sales of these devices for the year—and 2018 started strong, too

September 1, 2017

Store-Level Enabled Retail Tracking: How a Mobile Brand Defended Itself Against Competitors' High-Performing Products

As a brand, it’s hard to stand out in the noisy mobile power space. A leading mobile power manufacturer approached us to determine how to more meaningfully track their competitors’ performance, seeking out greater indicators than sales alone. See how they identified “silent” threats with a new measure.

July 25, 2017

Unlocking the Secrets of Unlocked Phone Owners

As the unlocked phone market grows in the U.S., differentiation will be key for original equipment manufacturers.

April 24, 2017

Store-Level Enabled Retail Tracking: How BodyGuardz Proved its Growth Potential and Won More Distribution

With shelf space in a large wireless retailer and strong direct-to-consumer sales results, BodyGuardz set its sights on increasing in-store distribution to reach additional consumers and continue to grow brand awareness. To prepare for discussions with retailers, the company wanted a more in-depth view of the competitive cell phone accessories category and partnered with us to make its case.

November 10, 2015

Segment and Sell to Gen Y: 10 Ways Younger and Older Millennials Shop Differently

The retail world is obsessed with Millennials.

October 22, 2015

Amazon Prime Reaches One of Every Four American Households

Roughly a quarter of American households now have access to an Amazon Prime account, shown by new research from The NPD Group and CivicScience. This suggests the online retailer’s premium service has altered how consumers shop – just a decade after its launch.

May 4, 2015

Experiential Purchasing and the New Retail

What it means when consumers want to do something, not just buy something

April 22, 2015

Big dreams, small stores

Smaller-footprint retail offers challenges, opportunities to manufacturers

March 26, 2015

Emotional disconnect in the connected home

There may not be a word in the English language that carries more subtext, more connotative and emotional weight, than “home.”

March 24, 2015

Driving change without a driver: How the driverless car will alter retail forever

The particulars of the retail business are always derivative. The nature of what is sold, and where it’s sold, and at what price, is always derived from the nature of other things.

Insights and Opinions from our Analysts and Experts

June 6, 2016

Ode to the Flip Phone?

I remember getting my first cell phone like it was yesterday. It was my 15 th birthday and the phone I was thrilled to receive was dumb, heavy and oh so cool all at the same time. I could make phone calls, text (by triple-tapping the numeric keypad) and play the one pre-installed game – Snake.  Thirteen years later, I’ve had my share of ever-evolving phones from the Motorola Razr, to the very first iPhone, and so on. I have games galore, messaging apps and yes, I can still make the occasional phone call.

But is it any more exciting, or even as “cool” as I used to think it was? Smartphones seem to have peaked, with longer life-spans and slower sales, as there seems to be less and less to differentiate the old from the new. In other words, we’ve hit a level of maturity and with it, a tinge of dullness. This has resulted in the murmuring of a retro vibe: hipsters now sneer at smartphones, opting instead for flip phones. And a new “Motorola” ad suggests the Razr may be brought back later this month… I hope so, if only to shake up the market.

Not that I want to regress to the flip phone of my past, but we need a new take on the smartphone market; a new niche or “wow factor” to recapture user interest and justify expense. After all, the average cost of a smartphone is around $500 and can quickly head far higher than that, now that subsidies are (almost) a thing of the past. Simply put, the current design focus of “bigger, faster, lighter” is, in many ways, the enemy of true innovation and is limiting the appeal of the latest generation of devices. How fast do I really need a phone to be? Can I make mine last longer if it’s still running the apps without the processor choking?

One approach that is teetering on the edge of emergence is that of a modular smartphone. Conceptually the idea of modular smartphones is great: when your battery level is critically low, just pop in a new one (of course, my original flip phone could do that too…). Want a better picture? Snap in the higher megapixel lens. Broke the screen again? Click in a new one and be on your way. However, with this flexibility also comes a lot of responsibility. Where do we keep the many auxiliary pieces? Do we drag them around with us at all times? Or does it come down to dressing up our phone for the day ahead before walking out the door in the morning - not a bad idea in concept, but I’m not convinced that we will still be “dressing” the phone after the first week.

Time will be the only indicator of whether or not this concept will take a foothold in the market. Until then, the one main feature I would like to see come out of the mobile world in the next year is a smartphone with longer battery life. Forget “bigger, faster, lighter”; give me “longer.” But ideally, give me that with a cooler outer shell. Something that shouts that it is different in the way the original Razr did. Maybe Motorola is on to something…

March 15, 2016

Me And My Smartphone, Till Dead Battery Do Us Part

It’s no secret that we all keep our smartphones close, and they are the most personal of personal devices that are available to us. Indeed, on average we interact with our phones 150 times in a given day, which means that if we assume that we all get a decent night’s sleep, we reach for our phones every six-to-seven minutes during the waking hours.

The very first reach for the phone often happens as soon as we wake up. About one-third of smartphone-toting consumers fall asleep with their phone nearby, reaching for it as soon as they wake up. Indeed, the phone is very much the third wheel in many relationships (and fourth, as it’s likely the other person in the bed also has their phone nearby). And while it could be interesting to see how these phones change the romantic dynamic, we’ll stay on safer ground and look at exactly what people are using their phones for first thing in the morning.

According to the Connected Intelligence Smartmeter, 12.5 percent of smartphone users check their in-box as soon as they reach for their phones in the morning (during the work week). Why do I find this surprising? Simply because social networks are the go-to service for personal updates, which means that a lot of the email checking is likely to be work related. So that suggests that 12.5 percent of smartphone users are pretty dedicated to their work email; and the number only drops down to 10.8 percent during the weekend, meaning that many of us need to get a bit more of a life outside work!

The second shocker for the morning regime is that placing or receiving a phone call is the second most popular activity. Six percent of smartphone owners take part in a good old-fashioned voice call first thing in the morning, which is more than particpate in a group chat or messaging app at this time of the day. Of course, the difference is that, on average, we make seven calls per day, spending just over 30 minutes chatting in total. By contrast, consumers spend almost double that in group chat apps, which is something I can personaly attest to. I seem to be constantly bouncing between five different OTT group chats, including a work chat group, family, various groups of friends, and a soccer group (at least this shows I have a work/life balance to counter the possibility that I’m checking email too early on a Sunday).

In between voice calling and group chats is music use, with just under six percent of the base listening to music first thing in the morning. Wrapping up the early morning list are navigation and weather apps as we prepare for the day ahead and the traffic congestion that we may face. Those apps make sense to me, because if the weather forecast is too gray, or the traffic congestion too grim, then perhaps I’ll just turn up the volume and listen to a few more tunes before making my move in the morning.

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