AT&T just had its biggest smartphone sales quarter in history. In an announcement today, Ma Bell said that it sold more than 10 million smartphones over the fourth quarter, including record sales for both iPhone and Android sales.
If you are an iPhone or an Android fan, there are definitely things to like about AT&T’s announcement. Yet, if you look closely, you will note that there is more for iPhone fans to enjoy than for Android.
Of the three major carriers in the United States that carry the iPhone (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint), AT&T has long had the highest rate of Apple users. This is a lasting effect of the fact that AT&T had exclusivity on iPhone sales in the U.S. for nearly four years (July 2007 until March 2011, when Verizon came out with its iPhone 4S). In the second quarter of 2011, 72.5% of smartphone purchases on the carrier were of the iPhone variety. In the third quarter, the iPhone constituted about 70.1% of its AT&T’s smartphones sales.
We can reasonably assume that AT&T’s sales rate of iPhones will be approximately 68%-70% for the fourth quarter, given the historical trend of Apple sales at the carrier. Yet, if AT&T is saying that Apple sales were a quarterly record, then the number should be higher than the 7.6 million iPhones it sold in Q4 2011.
The leftover AT&T sales presumably went to Android, though it is curious that AT&T did not mention Windows Phone sales in today’s release. Nokia released the Lumia 920 exclusively to AT&T in Q4 and HTC released its Windows Phone 8X to the carrier in the quarter as well. It is likely that AT&T sold between 2.1 million and 2.4 million Android devices during the holiday season, if we taking the “record” Android sales claim from the carrier seriously.
As companies give final reports on 2012 numbers, we note that each successive story shows that last year was the year that mobile truly exploded. Look for more record breaking numbers to come from other manufacturers, carriers, app developers and services as companies continue to report their numbers from last quarter.