updated 08:40 am EDT, Wed April 21, 2010
ATT has record 1st quarter due to iPhone
AT&T on Wednesday reported its best-ever first quarter, owed in large part to the iPhone. The cell carrier activated 2.7 million iPhones in early 2010, or 1.1 million more than it did a year ago. It would potentially have lost customers otherwise, as it added a net 1.9 million subscribers that in itself was a record for AT&T and gave it 87 million total cellphone customers.
A net 3.3 million advanced, or "3G integrated," devices joined the network, AT&T said. This included not just smartphones but also 3G-aware devices like the Barnes & Noble Nook and netbooks.
The handset had a similar effect on increasing AT&T's revenues and keeping customers. Churn, or customer turnover, reached an all-time low of 1.07 percent; wireless data revenue also shot up 29.8 percent to $4.1 billion, and 28 percent more customers were using subscription data plans. The average revenue per person also climbed slightly to $61.89 and was helped by a boost to the average revenue from data.
Overall revenue gains were actually slight at just 0.3 percent, reaching $30.6 billion; its profit was relatively small at $2.5 billion but would have been higher if not for a one-time $995 million Medicare charge.
The iPhone activations, while an achievement for AT&T, point to Apple being less and less dependent on the American carrier for its sales; the number was down from the fall despite an increase in worldwide shipments. The addition of new countries like Korea and the addition of multiple carriers to existing countries, such as the UK, has helped drive foreign sales.
Apple has continued to express satisfaction with AT&T's progress in upgrading its network to prevent customers from leaving over 3G congestion problems, but it has increasingly pointed out that ending exclusivity and expanding to other carriers has usually resulted in an uptick of iPhone sales in a given area. One major, if still unconfirmed, rumor has Apple making a Verizon-capable iPhone for the fall.