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Verizon Seeing Slow Phone Upgrades As Customers Await Next iPhone

May 19, 2016, 2:22 PM UTC
Inside An Apple Inc. Store As The New iPhones Are Released
Employees arrange Apple Inc. iPhone 6s Plus boxes at an Apple store in Palo Alto, California, U.S., on Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. From Sydney to New York, some of the Apple faithful waited in lines for more than two weeks to be among the first to receive the new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by David Paul Morris — Bloomberg via Getty Images

Pressure may be mounting on Apple to save the year for the entire smartphone industry. Verizon Communications, one of the largest U.S. carriers, said on Thursday that it is seeing a surprisingly low number of customers upgrading smartphones during in the second quarter—a delay that CFO Fran Shammo blamed partly on iPhone anticipation.

“Upgrades are very slow right now,” Shammo said speaking at the MoffettNathanson investor conference in New York. Given Apple’s usual cycle of releasing a new iPhone in the fall, “customers are waiting to see what’s potentially coming in the fourth quarter,” he explained.

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But when asked point blank if the arrival of the next iPhone, which some have dubbed the iPhone 7, will prompt all the delayers at Verizon (VZ) to upgrade en masse, Shammo was non-committal.

“I’m not sure yet,” Shammo replied, adding it would depend on whether the new iPhone represented a “dynamic change.”

Apple (AAPL) saw iPhone sales slip on a year-over-year basis for the first time ever at the beginning of 2016, and the tech giant’s financial guidance implied another dip is likely in the current quarter.

Meanwhile, analysts are debating if the decline represents the end of growth for Apple’s top product or merely a delay until a more appealing upgrade hits the market.