iPhone Drives AT&T’s Record-Smashing Quarter for Smartphone Sales with 7.6 Million Activations

31st January 2012

AT&T today announced its financial results for the fourth quarter of 2011, revealing that the carrier saw record-smashing sales of 9.4 million smartphones, nearly double the previous quarter’s sales and 50% higher than the company’s previous record. The iPhone was clearly the primary driver of smartphone sales for AT&T, as the carrier reported 7.6 million iPhone activations during that quarter, with the “majority” of those activations being iPhone 4S devices.

In the fourth quarter, the company set a new record with 9.4 million smartphones sold, nearly double the number sold in the third quarter and 50 percent more than the previous quarterly record. Fourth-quarter smartphone sales represented more than 80 percent of postpaid device sales. Both iPhone and Android device sales set records. During the quarter, more than 7.6 million iPhones were activated, the majority of which were iPhone 4S, which went on sale Oct. 14, and more than twice as many Android smartphones were sold versus the fourth quarter a year ago. iPhone sales were helped by a superior customer experience, with AT&T delivering download speeds up to three-times faster than on other U.S. carriers’ networks.

The iPhone and total smartphone numbers can not be directly compared, however, as the “activations” number AT&T reports for iPhones includes used devices activated on new contracts such as when a user’s old device is sold or given away upon upgrading.

AT&T also touts its lead over Verizon in iPhone activations, noting that it has continued to easily outpace Verizon every quarter since AT&T lost exclusivity on the iPhone in early 2011.

Finally, AT&T notes that it has continued to improve its voice and data network, with more than 80% of data traffic now coming over the carrier’s enhanced backhaul that allows for “4G” speeds on devices supporting at least HSPA+, such as the iPhone 4S. The carrier also reports that “call retainability”, an inverse measure of dropped call rates, has continued to increase and was over 99% throughout the quarter for 3G connections on a nationwide basis.