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Here’s Where Apple Customers Really Buy iPhones and iPads

Apple’s retail stores are not consumer destinations for all of the company’s products, a new study suggests.

The vast majority of people who buy iPhones in the U.S.—nearly 80%—do so at carrier stores rather than the company’s own retail outlets. In fact, just 11% of iPhones bought in the U.S. are purchased on or at an Apple Store, according to new data from researcher Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP).

However, buying behavior is dramatically different for Apple’s (AAPL) other products. Nearly four in ten Macs purchased in the U.S. are bought at the Apple Store. According to CIRP, 30% of Macs are purchased at a Best Buy store. On the iPad side, Apple stores account for 20% of the company’s tablet sales. Surprisingly, Best Buy (BBY) is the top retail destination for iPad sales, accounting for 25% of purchases.

CIRP’s data is based on a survey of 2,000 Apple customers who purchased at least one of the company’s products between October 2016 and September 2017. The researcher analyzed the data to determine just how much control Apple has over the retail experience. At third-party stores, after all, Apple’s products sit next to competing devices. At Apple Stores, the tech giant doesn’t need to worry about the competition.

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“With iPad, Apple confronts a similar problem to selling iPhones in carrier stores,” CIRP co-founder Josh Lowitz said in a statement to illustrate the point. “At Best Buy and now at carrier stores, consumers have a choice of tablet brands and operating systems, and Apple does not control the retail purchase experience.”

Apple’s dominance in Mac sales might have something to do with history, CIRP co-founder Mike Levin said in a statement. Unlike the iPhone and iPad, which came along after Apple retail stores, Macs were an initial focus in the company’s retail plans.

“The entire retail experience and operation was originally designed to educate customers about Mac computers at a time when they needed to compete with Wintel PCs,” Levin said. “That experience and operation has of course evolved, and yet Apple stores and has persisted as the leading seller of Mac computers.”

Still, Apple is able to steal some of its iPhone and iPad customers away each year during the period around a product launch. Other retailers have constrained supply during an iPhone or iPad product launch, according to CIRP, leading customers to Apple stores, where they might have better luck at getting a new device.