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US iPhone carrier AT&T sees record subscriber boost

post #1 of 20
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AT&T said Thursday that fourth-quarter earnings rose over 61 percent, helped largely by its acquisition of BellSouth and the addition of a record 2.7 million wireless customers, many of which are believed to have switched to the provider as a result of Apple's iPhone.

For the three-month period ending December, AT&T said net profit rose 61.8 percent to $3.14 billion, or $0.51 a share, up from $1.94 billion, or $0.50 a share during the same period one year ago.

Sales were up some 91 percent to $30.35 billion from $15.9 billion during the year-ago quarter, boosted largely by the provider's December 2006 acquisition of BellSouth.

During the quarter, AT&T said it added 2.7 million new wireless customers to end at a nation's best 70.1 million mobile subscribers. The surge, thanks largely to Apple's iPhone, helped boost wireless revenues by 16.3 percent to $11.4 billion.

Apple said earlier this week that it sold over 2.3 million iPhones during the same three-month period. The net additions to AT&T's mobile subscriber base are believed to have come largely at the expense of Sprint/Nextel, which warned last week that it had incurred a considerable loss of high-value customers during the December quarter.

AT&T's ability to maintain strength in its wireless business came as some reassurance to investors, after the company said earlier this month that had been forced to disconnect a number of landline subscribers who were finding it difficult to pay more than one telephone bill.

Still, fears of a growing economic downturn continued to weigh on shares of the telecommunications giant, which were trading down $0.93, or 2.5 percent, to $35.76 in early afternoon trading.
post #2 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The net additions to AT&T's mobile subscriber base are believed to have come largely at the expense of Sprint/Nextel, which warned last week that it had incurred a considerable loss of high-value customers during the December quarter.



Can't wait to see what Verizon says....
post #3 of 20
I would love an iPhone, I really would. Not because they're trendy or hip, but because it is actually the one phone on the market that has the functionality I want and has it in a nice, easy-to-use Mac-compatible package.

Unfortunately I move around a lot, and can't control where I go. So I asked my local AT&T rep what would happen if I was moved to a place where AT&T doesn't have great coverage (and let's face it, there's a lot of area like that). He said I'd be able to use the phone via partner coverage. Until I'd used over half my minutes that way in a month, then they'd just terminate my contract.

So I guess I either wait for Apple to open up the market to other carriers (doesn't seem likely), AT&T to dramatically increase coverage (by which time there will be a 1TB iPhone that works by subspace), or just skip the iPhone altogether. 'Cause I can't afford to buy a phone that might become useless 30 days after a move.

With AT&T increasing in subscribers it seems less likely Apple will seek out other carriers. Oh well, the dream was fun for a while! :-)
post #4 of 20
Thats confirmed it then, the 3G phone is a comin.

OR

This report is completely full of shit.
post #5 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by monstrosity View Post

Thats confirmed it then, the 3G phone is a comin.

OR

This report is completely full of shit.

Assuming the former, does that help my cause at all?
post #6 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The net additions to AT&T's mobile subscriber base are believed to have come largely at the expense of Sprint/Nextel

Ok, I admit it. I'm partly to blame.
post #7 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by captmacguy View Post

Assuming the former, does that help my cause at all?

No. You'd just get faster data speeds.

You could purchase and unlocked iPhone off eBay, then you could go to AT&T, T-Mobile, and any GSM provider outside the US. Currently, you'd have to get one that still had v1.1.1 on it as the new versions haven't been unlocked, only jailbroken to add apps.
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post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by <2cents View Post

Ok, I admit it. I'm partly to blame.

Well, there is that. When I was looking at carriers and discovered that AT&T's coverage wasn't stellar, I found that Sprint/NEXTEL's was even worse. There were whole states in the USA where you would be roaming. Even on the interstate highways. Egad.
post #9 of 20
Hm, that's true. Wonder if it would work with Alltel. Of course, I'd have no idea if I'd get the same functionality as far as web and e-mail and all that. The <I>package</i> from AT&T is great, I even like the price and the rollover minutes. I sure hope someone else picks it up sooner rather than later.

So 3G is faster data. Interesting.
post #10 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by captmacguy View Post

So 3G is faster data....

Technically yes. But there are other factors that go in favor of the edge "hampered" iPhone. Because the iPhone uses faster browser rendering (using Safari) compared to a mobile version of IE, that helps give you the feeling that edge is "as fast". Using the iPhone is some spots is really slow yes but in others it's pretty darn good, with wifi its almost as fast as my MacPro...

Personally, I think 3G is overrated. Unless your mobile processor, OS and browser can handle true 3G speeds it's pretty much just a buzzword. Now an iPhone with 3G would probably be really quick - but at what cost in terms of battery usage...
post #11 of 20
Let's see...

"A record 2.7 million subscribers" but sold "2.3 million iPhones". That means that 400,000 of AT&T's record subscriber growth didn't buy iPhones. Interesting.

I believe Sprint/Nextel reported a 400,000 subscriber loss last quarter. I guess we know where they went...LOL
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post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mirlin11 View Post

Let's see...

"A record 2.7 million subscribers" but sold "2.3 million iPhones". That means that 400,000 of AT&T's record subscriber growth didn't buy iPhones. Interesting.

I believe Sprint/Nextel reported a 400,000 subscriber loss last quarter. I guess we know where they went...LOL

I have also heard of people making the switch to AT&T so they'd be ready for the a 3G iPhone.
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post #13 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by captmacguy View Post

So I guess I either wait for Apple to open up the market to other carriers (doesn't seem likely), AT&T to dramatically increase coverage (by which time there will be a 1TB iPhone that works by subspace), or just skip the iPhone altogether. 'Cause I can't afford to buy a phone that might become useless 30 days after a move.

With AT&T increasing in subscribers it seems less likely Apple will seek out other carriers. Oh well, the dream was fun for a while! :-)


Actually, I would expect Apple to go multicarrier in the US with the iPhone as soon as it contractually can (their exclusive with ATT appears to be only two years solid, with an option to go five years). Why? Well, why would you want to sell to only 27% of the US wireless market (ATT), when you can sell to ALL of it? ATT has already served its purpose in helping get the iPhone off the ground.

You'll just have to wait, that's all... or investigate the possibility of using an unlocked iPhone on T-Mobile, the only other GSM carrier of size in the US. Of course, there may be some peril in that, as one of Apple's iPhone software updates allegedly did some 'bad things' to unlocked iPhones...


.
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post #14 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBaggins View Post

Actually, I would expect Apple to go multicarrier in the US with the iPhone as soon as it contractually can (their exclusive with ATT appears to be only two years solid, with an option to go five years). Why? Well, why would you want to sell to only 27% of the US wireless market (ATT), when you can sell to ALL of it? ATT has already served its purpose in helping get the iPhone off the ground.

You'll just have to wait, that's all... or investigate the possibility of using an unlocked iPhone on T-Mobile, the only other GSM carrier of size in the US. Of course, there may be some peril in that, as one of Apple's iPhone software updates allegedly did some 'bad things' to unlocked iPhones...
.


Two years, eh? That's what, January 2009. Not too bad. If only I had some way to predict what carriers they'd go with. My current contract is up in May.
post #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mirlin11 View Post

Let's see...

"A record 2.7 million subscribers" but sold "2.3 million iPhones". That means that 400,000 of AT&T's record subscriber growth didn't buy iPhones. Interesting.

I believe Sprint/Nextel reported a 400,000 subscriber loss last quarter. I guess we know where they went...LOL


Sprint-Nextel lost 683,000 contract customers in Q4 (an astoundingly high number ).

They are in very serious trouble, and yeah, a lot of those ppl likely went to ATT, Verizon, T-Mobile, Alltel, etc. Everyone's having a gravy train right now, at Sprint's expense.

Of course, ATT is having a double gravy train, courtesy the iPhone's US holiday sales.

.
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post #16 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by captmacguy View Post

Two years, eh? That's what, January 2009. Not too bad. If only I had some way to predict what carriers they'd go with. My current contract is up in May.


More like mid-2009... it's a ways off still. And no, you can't really predict who they'll go with when they go multicarrier. Its possible that some of the big carriers still won't want to agree to Apple's terms... though I think these quarter results by ATT are going a long way towards convincing them otherwise.


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post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBaggins View Post

Actually, I would expect Apple to go multicarrier in the US with the iPhone as soon as it contractually can (their exclusive with ATT appears to be only two years solid, with an option to go five years). Why? Well, why would you want to sell to only 27% of the US wireless market (ATT), when you can sell to ALL of it? ATT has already served its purpose in helping get the iPhone off the ground.

You'll just have to wait, that's all... or investigate the possibility of using an unlocked iPhone on T-Mobile, the only other GSM carrier of size in the US. Of course, there may be some peril in that, as one of Apple's iPhone software updates allegedly did some 'bad things' to unlocked iPhones...

I'm under the impression that contract is a solid 5 years. If Apple wanted the iPhone to gain more marketshare quickly they could have released an unlocked version and could have made it compatible with all US carriers. Screw the rest of the world until a 3G version was ready. They could have easily sold 10M by now. But it appears that they are playing it long and going for more money per unit than maximizing unit sales.

What are the differences between the 3G networks in the US, Europe and Asia? Do they have cards that will work for all of these or will Apple have to bit the bullet and make different versions?

I would have thought that more carrier and manufacturer services would have arisen by now. Visual Voicemail is nice, but one unique service doesn't make for a good argument for the customer.
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post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wally View Post

Now an iPhone with 3G would probably be really quick - but at what cost in terms of battery usage...


The battery life hit you take with 3G is declining all the time.... because 3G chipsets are getting more power-efficient.

For example, Samsung released a 3G smartphone (the Blackjack II) a couple of months ago that gets 7 hours talk time. Not bad at all.


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post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I'm under the impression that contract is a solid 5 years.

I used to think so too... but then I noticed that the press coverage of the iPhone around the US launch started to say 'two-year exclusive' instead of five years.

I do believe that there's an option to go five (which is why ATT was able to give the impression that it was five years, ironclad), but Apple certainly has no incentive to be wedded only to ATT in the US for that long.


Quote:
If Apple wanted the iPhone to gain more marketshare quickly they could have released an unlocked version and could have made it compatible with all US carriers.

Two years isn't really that 'quick'. And going unlocked would've kept Apple from cutting the lucrative deal they did with ATT. When I say Apple will go 'multicarrier' eventually, I'm not talking about unlocked phones, but rather, Apple getting its ATT deal (or close), but with multiple national carriers. Now THAT would be some heavy moolah.


Quote:
Screw the rest of the world until a 3G version was ready. They could have easily sold 10M by now. But it appears that they are playing it long and going for more money per unit than maximizing unit sales.

If they really wanted max profit per unit uber alles and 'the hell with unit volume', then they wouldn't have done the huge price drop.


Quote:
What are the differences between the 3G networks in the US, Europe and Asia? Do they have cards that will work for all of these or will Apple have to bit the bullet and make different versions?

Frequency is the main difference, far as I know. But there are 'tri-band' 3G chips that handle multiple freqs. Electric Monk is REAL good source to talk to about this, but I haven't seen him around here much lately.


Quote:
I would have thought that more carrier and manufacturer services would have arisen by now. Visual Voicemail is nice, but one unique service doesn't make for a good argument for the customer.

Interesting point.

.
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post #20 of 20
Good for them. They were flexible enough to try a new subscription model whereby Apple got some of the revenue (to cover software maintenance and updates for the device presumably).

Due to being willing to try something new they got the reward.
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