Apple's iPhone Lifts AT&T to Record Smartphone Sales

By Josh Long Comments
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AT&T Inc. anticipates a record quarter for smartphone sales, thanks to such slick gadgets as the iPhone.

The nation's second-largest wireless operator said it sold 6 million smartphones in the first two months of the fourth quarter, up from a previous quarterly record of 6.1 million in the third quarter of last year, Bloomberg reported.

In November, the iPhone was the top-selling smartphone at AT&T, Sprint and Verizon Wireless, according to Canaccord Genuity, the global capital markets group of Canaccord Financial Inc. The Samsung Galaxy S II was the second best-selling smartphone at AT&T and Sprint while ranking as the top-selling device at T-Mobile USA, Canaccord Genuity analysts T. Michael Walkley and Matthew D. Ramsay wrote Tuesday in a research note.

Sales of the iPhone were particularly strong at AT&T and Sprint in November, the analysts said.

"We expected this to be one of our strong smartphone sales quarters ever," Bloomberg quoted AT&T Chief Financial Officer John Stephens as stating at a UBS conference in New York. "What we didn't know was that we would nearly break our smartphone sales record in just the first two months of the quarter."

Dallas-based AT&T, which has been selling the iPhone for the past four years, sold 4.8 million smartphones in the third quarter ending Sept. 30. At that time, more than half (52.6 percent) of AT&T's 68.6 million postpaid subscribers used smartphones, up from 39.1 percent a year earlier.

AT&T, Sprint and Verizon Wireless began selling Apple's latest smartphone – the iPhone 4S – in October.

"Overall, the iPhone 4S remained the dominant selling smartphone at AT&T," Canaccord Genuity analysts Walkley and Ramsay wrote, commenting on November sales based on their research into the carrier's distribution channels.

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