AT&T's iPhone Growth Continues
The first quarter of 2011 was also the first time AT&T had to compete with another iPhone distributor; Verizon began selling the iPhone in February. So far, Verizon's iPhone presence hasn't hurt AT&T's ability to attract new iPhone customers. (See Verizon Finally Gets the iPhone 4 , OS Watch: Verizon Bests AT&T With iPhone 4 and AT&T Beats Verizon on iPhone Speed.)
AT&T sold 1 million more iPhones in the quarter ending in March than it did in the same period last year. Twenty-three percent of its iPhone subs were new customers and churn was unchanged. The carrier activated 3.6 million iPhones in the first quarter, 33 percent more than this time last year, but down slightly from the 4.1 million it turned on in the previous quarter.
Not all about iPhone
It's not just the iPhone driving growth for AT&T, however. AT&T added to its Android smartphone lineup, stepped up marketing and lowered its prices prior to losing its iPhone exclusivity. (See AT&T SVP: We're A-OK Post Verizon iPhone.)
The company sold more than 5.5 million smartphones (including iPhones) in the first quarter, a 60 percent rise year-on-year. Now, 46.2 percent of its 68.1 million postpaid subs are using the higher-end devices, up from 34.7 percent last year.
The growth in smartphones brought postpaid subscriber average revenue per user (ARPU) up 2.4 percent to US$63.39, its ninth consecutive quarter of ARPU growth. Wireless data revenues grew by 23.9 percent, up nearly $1 billion from the previous year's corresponding quarter.
Overall, AT&T added 2 million new subscribers during the quarter, bringing its total to 97.5 million. That's down from 2.8 million new additions in the previous quarter, but that figure will shoot back up again if AT&T's acquisition of T-Mobile US Inc. is approved by the U.S. regulators. (See AT&T to Buy T-Mobile USA for $39B and Regulatory Scrutiny Escalates for AT&T/T-Mobile.)
We'll have a better picture of the iPhone's effect after Apple reports its first-quarter earnings on Wednesday evening and Verizon Wireless reports on Thursday morning.
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile