Device Profile: The Samsung Vibrant Sparkles at T-Mobile

Samsung’s slick, Android-powered Galaxy S phones have been huge hits. The company just announced that they have sold 3 million Galaxy S devices since the line first launched in July. Compete looked into online trends for the Vibrant (at T-Mobile), Captivate (at AT&T) and Fascinate (at Verizon Wireless) to get a better understanding of who is buying the Galaxy S and which carrier stands to benefit most from these hot new phones.

Samsung hasn’t announced sales by carrier, but based on Compete’s Device Demand Measurement data, the Vibrant at T-Mobile garnered the highest share of online shopping interest. In the chart below, which shows Q3 online device shopping data, we can see how at its peak 25% of all T-Mobile handset researchers evaluated the Vibrant—a blockbuster interest level that is a strong leading indicator of device sales.

Despite the fact that T-Mobile is the smallest of the Big 4 carriers, the Vibrant captured the interest of an equivalent (and sometimes greater) number of actual shoppers than either the Captivate at AT&T or the Fascinate at Verizon Wireless. This difference in interest share is in part a reflection of the carriers’ respective device portfolios: at AT&T and VZW the Captivate and Fascinate have to compete with top-of-the line smartphones like the iPhone and the DROID family, but at T-Mobile the Vibrant represents the highest-end device available.

This is important because the Vibrant is essential to help T-Mobile retain and acquire 18-24 year old subscribers. T-Mobile, which has a high proportion of 18-24 subscribers and the highest reported churn rate in the industry, needs a high-end smartphone to fend off defections to competitive rivals, and the Vibrant seems to be helping in that pursuit. So far, T-Mobile Vibrant shoppers are 43% more likely to be 18-24 than overall T-Mobile shoppers.

Compete’s Smartphone Intelligence survey reveals that more than a third of all smartphone owners 18-24 have never owned a smartphone before, and that most smartphone buyers who switch carriers defect to AT&T and the iPhone. This underscores the importance of a strong smartphone portfolio, and suggests that with the Vibrant, T-Mobile may finally have a phone for younger consumers compelling enough to rival the iPhone.