AT&T Activates Record 3.2 Million iPhones in Q3

Published on October 22, 2009
by John Paczkowski

happy-iphoneHow badly does AT&T want to renew its iPhone exclusivity contract with Apple?

Pretty damn badly.

Posting third-quarter earnings that topped Wall Street expectations this morning, AT&T (T) said it activated a record 3.2 million iPhones during the period (not surprising given Apple’s blowout quarter).

Of those, 40 percent were for customers new to the carrier. That’s quite a bit more than Wall Street expected, and this surge did much to balance continued weakness in AT&T’s wireline business (click on slide below to enlarge). In fact, if that 40 percent metric is accurate, then Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone single-handedly generated an astonishing 92 percent of AT&T’s post-paid subscriber growth.


“We delivered a terrific wireless quarter, IP data growth was strong and execution across the business continues to be solid,” AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said in an earnings release, and indeed, that would seem to be the case.

Wireless data-services revenue spiked 34 percent. And revenue from the wireless segment overall increased 8.2 percent as profit grew 41 percent. Wireless turnover rate fell to a record low of 1.4 percent.

Meanwhile, wireline revenue fell 7.1 percent, profit 30 percent.

So in the end, AT&T posted earnings of $3.2 billion, or 54 cents a share, down from $3.23 billion, or 55 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue slipped 1.6 percent to $30.86 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected per-share earnings of 50 cents on revenue of $30.88 billion.

At $26.86, shares of AT&T are up about 3.5 percent in early morning trading.

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