Hey, smartphone retailers, you're missing gouging, er, I mean, up-selling opportunities

Research shows even as smartphone prices drop, 'accessory attachment rates' unchanged

Earlier I wrote about NPD Group's research on third-quarter mobile device sales in the U.S. But the research firm also reported interesting data on smartphone prices.

Namely, that smartphone prices continue to drop. Based on NPD's monthly Mobile Phone Track service, "average selling prices for smartphones have declined for four consecutive quarters, reaching $135 in Q3," the researcher said in a press release.

Most of us would be pleased to hear this news, but NPD Group sees a dark cloud in this silver lining -- at least from the perspective of retailers, i.e. the research firm's client base.

First, smartphone prices are falling "even though many consumers originally considered paying more."

Among U.S. consumers who considered purchasing phones in the $200 to $250 price range, 64 percent ended up purchasing a phone for less than $200.

Maybe they all weren't serious about a $200-plus smartphone, but when nearly two-thirds of potential high-end buyers walk away with a cheaper (and probably less profitable) item...well, somebody did something wrong on the seller side. Maybe it's time to fire some marketers.

But that's not the only table where money's being left by retailers. Here's Ross Rubin, NPD Group's executive director of industry analysis:

“Even as smartphone prices continue to decline, the accessory attachment rates for smartphones in Q3 was unchanged since last year. This indicates further opportunity for retailers to improve revenue numbers by focusing marketing efforts on selling more accessories.”

One would think that most smartphone buyers would buy a case of some kind -- I don't know anyone who hasn't -- so the accessories NPD encourages its clients to sell to customers probably mostly include items that are a little less mission-critical than device protection.

Just look at this page of stuff from Zagg, a top mobile accessories vendor (and these are just for the iPhone 4S):

Smartbuds -- $49.99

Aquabuds -- $29.99

Portable USB charger -- $99.99

Antibacterial cleaner -- $9.99

So, c'mon retailers, you're missing opportunities to sell customers stuff they don't really need. And our economy depends on that!

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