AT&T posted a strong quarter and customer additions that put it ahead of Verizon despite, it said, there being "no secret" that Verizon was getting an iPhone.
pending loss of exclusive rights to the Apple iPhone cast a shadow over its
fourth quarter 2010 earnings call on Jan. 27, despite AT&T's strong showing
on the wireless front; the carrier announced nearly 10 percent growth in
wireless revenue and the addition of 2.8 million wireless subscribers, which,
at 95.5 million, put it ahead of Verizon Wireless.
during its own fourth-quarter 2010 earnings call two days earlier, shared that
it had added 872,000 wireless customers, bringing its total to 94.1 million.
AT&T's lead, however, may not last long, with the Verizon iPhone 4 poised to go on sale
"If you just
look at the fourth quarter, it was no secret that the iPhone was going to
become available on a competitors' network," AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson
said during a conference call with analysts and media-though Verizon didn't
confirm such widespread suspicions until Jan. 11.
"In spite of
that, we had our second-best integrated-sales quarter ever," he continued. "iPhone
sales continued to be very strong in the fourth quarter. In fact, it was among
the best quarters we've ever done. We sold [4.1 million] iPhones."
announced fourth-quarter net income of $1.1 billion on revenues of $124.3
billion. It also enjoyed its best-ever wireless churn rate of 1.32 percent and
its first-ever quarter during which wireless revenues exceed wireline revenues.
that the beginning of 2011 "may be rocky ... kind of volatile, hard to predict,"
but said AT&T "will be able to work through it."
Part of that
work will be accomplished via a large and diverse portfolio of smartphones,
including a variety of Windows Phone 7 and Research In Motion devices. The
heaviest lifting, however, will be hefted onto the shoulders of Android-an OS
that, Stephenson admitted, AT&T hasn't until now given much attention.
to be a lot of activity around Android. Because it's such a broad-based
platform, it's going to be utilized in a number of different areas, and
it's going to be a high priority for us as we move into 2011," he said. "You're
going to see a lot of activity from us in Android."
gave a product plug to the Motorola Atrix 4G
-a "really exciting device" that
will be exclusive to AT&T-but emphasized that a number of Android-running
tablets are in the works, and that the tablet market is only just getting
started. During the quarter, AT&T added 442,000 iPads and Android-running
tablets to its network.
"We think [the
tablet market] has a ways to run. You're going to see a lot of Android tablets
come online, so we think we have a lot of opportunity in tablets," he said. He
added that connected devices are proving to be "very powerful" additions to the
carrier's device lineup, and that they're only expected to accelerate as AT&T
begins rolling out its 4G network. The carrier plans to add 20 4G devices to
its lineup this year.