I think to say that Q4 2012 was “a good quarter” for AT&T would be a huge understatement. While we already had some hints at what AT&T would be releasing today, now we have the real, and impressive, numbers. As expected the iPhone was a huge boon for AT&T leading all other smartphones in sales and activations.
Directly from the AT&T press room:
Smartphones Represent 89 Percent of Postpaid Phone Sales. AT&T sold a record 10.2 million smartphones in the fourth quarter. Smartphones represented 86 percent of postpaid device sales and 89 percent of postpaid phone sales in the quarter. At the end of the quarter, 69.6 percent, or 47.1 million, of AT&T’s postpaid phone subscribers had smartphones, up from 58.5 percent, or 39.4 million, a year earlier. AT&T’s ARPU for smartphones is twice that of non-smartphone subscribers, and about 90 percent of smartphone subscribers are on FamilyTalk®, Mobile Share or business plans. Churn levels for these subscribers are significantly lower than for other postpaid subscribers. About 55 percent of AT&T’s postpaid smartphone customers now use a 4G-capable device.
In the quarter, the company activated a record 8.6 million iPhones, with 16 percent new to AT&T. The company also had its best-ever sales quarter for Android smartphones.
Given these numbers, if the U.S. doesn’t hit the smartphone tipping point (where there are more smartphones in use than “feature phones”) this year I’d be pretty surprised. Given that we’re likely to see updated Samsung and Apple devices this year (and how many Apple devices we don’t know), demand for better smartphones could get even stronger.
I think it’s ironic that the companies who sell iPhones are doing better in the market right now than the company who makes them.