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iPhone sales at Leap Wireless are half of what was forecast

The prepaid mobile carrier is having a tough time getting Apple's smartphones off its hands.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read
Apple's iPhone 5. CNET

Leap Wireless, which operates Cricket Wireless, told the Wall Street Journal that it's sluggishly behind in its prepaid iPhone sales. In fact, by the time the carrier completes its yearlong contract with Apple in June, it will most likely have sold only half of the iPhones it committed to sell.

This is bad news for both Leap and Apple. For Leap, the company will be in the hole for around $100 million worth of unsold iPhones, according to the Wall Street Journal; and it doesn't bode well for Apple either, as the company partners with prepaid carriers in an effort to lure more lower-income users.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Leap has around 5.3 million subscribers but is hampered by having less network access than the country's major carriers.

Leap signed a yearlong contract with Apple last June. One of Apple's goals with the partnership was to push the device into as many users' hands as possible. With a no-contract plan, users pay nearly full price for the iPhone but then have lower monthly payments than carriers that require two-year contracts.

When the iPhone 5 debuted in September, Leap also pledged to sell that device. Paying Apple a small subsidy, Leap offers the iPhone 5 for $500, which is about $150 less than buying the phone directly from Apple.

To tempt more iPhone customers, Leap told the Wall Street Journal that it was working on marketing and giving buyers further options for financing the device.

Despite Leap's slow iPhone sales, the smartphone has reportedly sold well worldwide. Strategy Analytics released a report last week that said the iPhone 5 surpassed Samsung's Galaxy S3 last quarter as the best-selling smartphone globally. According to the report, Apple shipped 27.4 million iPhone 5 units, winning a market share of 12.6 percent, and Samsung shipped 15.4 million Galaxy S3 phones for a 7.1 percent slice of the market.