updated 10:00 am EDT, Thu October 20, 2011
ATT gets record iPhone 4S launch week
AT&T countered its lackluster summer results with word it had set a record number of activations for the iPhone 4S. As of Tuesday, five days after launch, it had switched on over one million of just the new model. The tally made the 4S the "most successful" iPhone release in company history, it said.
The company argued that the 14.4Mbps 3G and the simultaneous voice and data inherent to using HSPA gave it the edge over Sprint and Verizon.
A strong launch was expected, although not necessarily as high, and may have more to do with momentum and timing. AT&T had acknowledged that moving the iPhone from a more typical June release to October had cost it sales as customers waited for what would become the iPhone 4S before buying in. The carrier also had the luxury of a much larger existing iPhone user base, where many iPhone 3G and 3GS users were trading up after having had no choice but to use AT&T two or three years ago.
About three quarters of iPhone 4S launch buyers were on AT&T, based on early exit studies, but this matched closely to those who were upgrading from an existing iPhone.
AT&T's share makes it about a quarter of the four million sold worldwide and shows Apple's reduced dependence on the US for success, although they don't include Sprint or Verizon numbers. The rest was spread across Canada, key European countries, Australia, and Japan. It may also reverse a gain for non-iPhone devices in AT&T's share, where they make up 44 percent of its mix.