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Apple is the big winner, no matter which of its two BFFs, AT&T, or Verizon, sells an iPhone or 3G-enabled iPad, but although Apple’s Q2 fiscal 2011 results (calendar Q1 2011) were great, how did Verizon and AT&T do in the first quarter after AT&T lost iPhone exclusivity?
AT&T reported its “best-ever first-quarter smartphone sales.” The total number was more than 5.5 million, with iPhone activations increasing nearly 1 million year-over-year to 3.6 million. The unseen number there would be 1.9 million other smartphones being activated, with the presumed advantage being to Android.
Of those iPhone activations, 23 percent were subscribers new to AT&T, and the carrier added that iPhone subscriber churn remained unchanged year-over-year.
Verizon’s results were 2.2 iPhone 4s activated in 7 weeks. Extrapolating that out to a full 12-week
quarter, Verizon would have sold about 3.7 million iPhone 4s in Q1 2011, topping AT&T.
In addition, in just two weeks, the carrier sold 260,000 Android-based HTC Thunderbolts, its first LTE smartphone. Extrapolate that to a 12-week quarter, and that would have been 1.56 million Thunderbolts sold. Although not approaching iPhone numbers, that’s a solid hit, especially when considering the number of Android handsets available for consumers to choose from.
Why didn’t a wave of AT&T subscribers jump ship for Verizon? There may be a few reasons.
For one, most people aren’t going to jump ship if they are on contract and have to pay a huge early termination fee (ETF). In addition, once the Verizon iPhone 4 shipped, AT&T dropped the price of the iPhone 3GS to $49. That device is exclusive to AT&T, and AT&T does not break out its numbers vs. the iPhone 4 when it talks about its iPhone sales.
As time goes on, and folks reach the ends of their contracts, and when the iPhone 5 launches and both carriers have a year-old device that they can slash prices on, we will get a better feel for Verizon vs. AT&T in terms of iPhone sales.
One more thing: although AT&T’s version of the iPhone 4 is clearly faster than the Verizon iPhone 4 in terms of data speeds, Verizon’s LTE is far faster than anything AT&T has to offer. AT&T is far behind Verizon in terms of LTE rollout (it is expected to start testing in mid-2011, while Verizon has already deployed LTE commercially in a relatively large number of regions). That would give Verizon a major edge if they develop and release a Verizon iPhone that supports LTE.