AT&T Logo

AT&T has just posted its Q4 2012 earnings, showing strong growth in both wireless and wireline businesses. We'll be focusing here on the wireless business, naturally, so let's get right into the notable points:

Some 10.2 million smartphones were activated in the final three months of the year, the carrier said. Of that, 8.6 million were iPhones. AT&T didn't break down how much of the remaining 16 percent of sales were Android phones, but it did mention that our fare platform had its best-ever quarter. 

More of the financial stuff is after the break.

  • Total wireless revenues of $17.6 billion for the quarter, up 5.7-percent year-over-year
  • $6.8 billion of that revenue came from data charges, up 14.7-percent year-over-year
  • Operating expenses were up 6.9-percent, to $15.1 billion
  • Increased expenses led to a 1.2-percent decrease in operating income, to $2.8 billion in Q4
  • 780,000 postpaid subscribers and 246,000 device additions put the carrier's net subscriber additions for Q4 at 1.1 million
  • Prepaid subscribers were at a net loss of 166,000
  • Postpaid ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) increased 1.9-percent to $64.98, the 16th consecutive quarter of ARPU increasing

The carrier puts the blame of increased operating expenses on the cost of acquiring so many new customers, and is happy with the growth in revenue and customer base. Of the 10.2 million smartphones in the quarter, AT&T said 89 percent of postpaid phone sales are now smartphones. Currently, 69.6-percent of all phones operating on the network are smartphones. Of those 10.2 million smartphones sold in the quarter, AT&T claims it "activated" 8.6 million iPhones (the differentiation between "sold" and "activated" is puzzling.) That leaves the Android sales numbers at somewhere less than 1.6 million for the quarter (it likely sold a few Windows Phones and BlackBerrys as well,) which shouldn't be at all surprising if you've followed AT&T's numbers previously.

AT&T says that 31.7 million customers -- or two-thirds of all smartphone owners -- have moved to some type of tiered data or Mobile Share plan. 6.6 million customers are now on Mobile Share plans, and more than a quarter of those plans share 10GB of data or more per month. If you're interested in some of the more gritty details of the earnings report, it can be found at the source link below.

Source: AT&T


Reader comments

iPhone continues to dominate AT&T; the rest is Android?


It's always interesting about iPhones, I still see a ton of them but I see just as many Android phones now days as well.

My friend has bought 2 iphones, with ATT, and has activated 4 or 5 iphones from breaking them and or shattering the screens, I tried to get him on android but he thinks apple is a status symbol even though my Gnex out performed his 4s

the difference between "sold" and "activated" is simple. "sold" means that an iPhone was sold for AT&T. "activated" means that even if someone didn't buy the iPhone through AT&T, in other words, bought unlocked or used. so that really isn't an honest number of how iPhones are doing compared to Androids.

Yup we understand what the difference between sold and activated is, what was confusing is why they made the distinction of 10.2 million sales and 8.6 million activations. I would bet that a very small portion of their devices activated were brought in from another source, so these numbers are probably pretty close to the actual sales numbers.

I was seeing the Samsung Galaxy S3 sold for quite a bit cheaper at Radio Shack and Best Buy compared to AT&T. This means that a LOT of people were avoiding buying these from AT&T for the better deal. I would actually be VERY surprised if the number of iPhones vs. Android was at that level. 60 percent iPhone MAYBE, but I don't think it would have been much more than that.

Actually a LOT of people buy iPhones directly from Apple (online and retail) and from retail outlets like Best Buy. When the iPhone 5 came out my local AT&T stores got a single small shipment in the first month and a half while Apple stores in my area got quite a few shipments of hundreds of phones. Almost everyone in my part of Atlanta had to buy theirs from Apple. I bet less than half of those 8.6 million iPhones activated on their network were sold by them.

Yeah very good point. More people buy iPhones from Apple's site or stores than AT&T. I'd be willing to bet less than half of those 8.6 mil were from AT&T.

I haven't 'bought' a phone from AT&T since my wife's LG Shine years ago. However I've had them 'activate' on average about 2 a year since then.
Why should someone buy a device from them when literally every other vendor is offering the same (non refurbished) device cheaper? And usually by at least 25%.

Not to mention ATT said in the past that they actually lose money selling iphones, I think it was about $400-500 per device that they have to pay apple when people get subsidized contracts, But ATT and now VZW has $30 upgrade fees to subsidize the offset of the loss from iphones, which sucks. Not to mention that Both carriers New Tiered share data was designed to completely price gouge customers for data. Verizon even said publicly that 4G lte is a lot more cheaper to maintain than the 3g and other networks they have. So now they charge more for a cheaper service. Also data capping hinders innovation which will be less development of apps and programs that use data and less creativity for efficiency and innovations.

Good for at&t and apple. I hear they will be releasing a larger screen iphone this year. Keep the competition interesting so android can not let up and keep getting better. Im android for life!

I agree, if the biggest competitor of our favorite type of device is doing better, that means that the makers of our devices need to keep trying to get our business. Which means better/cooler stuff for us.

"...6.6 million customers are now on Mobile Share plans, and more than a quarter of those plans share 10GB of data or more per month. ..."

I would love to join them, but I can't get my head (or wallet) around the fact that they want to charge me $30 per month (each!) for mom and dad's dumbphones, that make maybe 300 minutes of voice and 50 texts between the two of them!

Oh brother here are the At@t clueless Joe iphone users tying too act like they are about something with Verizon iphone useless joe's. What a waste it is to be on both At@t and Verizon and the comical part is owning a useless childish iphone. Like 3.5 inch screens or 4 inch screens mean something. Iphone is nothing more than a boring dull watered down fake computer. Useless icons, ,boring Internet browsing, yuk.

WOW! Now I've seen it all! How is a security guard @ a homeless shelter in NYC going to cancel international shipments to the 3 largest carriers in the US?


Lots of older folks are switching to Android devices for the larger displays. iPhone's are too small for old eyes to see. My folks are both in there late 80s and just got there first Android phones.

I just convinced my senior-citizen-age parents to use the RAZR MAXX HDs that I got them too, and they like them now. Dad sits at his desk and plays with the phone all day now, and he and Mom regularly video chat with me using Google Talk. It's nice. Retirement-aged folks can really get into the big screens and nifty features. They think my wife's iPhone 4S looks like a toy in comparison, though, and they rejected it when I suggested it as a lower-priced option for them.

Trust me I am rooting for blackberry and Windows phones. We will have to wait and see with bb, but the Lumia series are beautiful handsets.

I don't believe those numbers. They just don't make any sense at all. Going with all the sales from all devices from the other Carriers, they do not figure. Someone is telling stories I think.

Those numbers are bunk. You can't compare iPhones activated to total phones sold because a ton of iPhone users buy directly from Apple online and retail stores. AT&T probably only sold around 4 million iPhones.

what you might be seeing is how many times the iphone was reset due to bugs and activated upon factory wipe

Well, Android has higher world market share. Doesn't that mean that more people are going with what is mainstream (ubiquitous) and therefore lack individuality by not going against the mainstream?

I actually switched in June from an iPhone on AT&T to a Galaxy SIII. I asked my mom if she wanted to upgrade her iPhone 4 to an iPhone 5, but now she wants to go Android as well. Pretty crazy, Android is picking up steam, but those iPhone numbers are just INSANE!

Her upgrade is at the end of Feb, and if she doesn't want to wait for the M7, or SIV, then we will be going Note II.

Well considering att had iPhone exclusive for however long it doesn't surprise me people stay on that carrier for upgrades. in other news Apple stock is getting slammed for not exceeding expectations.

I expected high sales given the 2:1 Verizon numbers for the final quarter, but daaayyyuummm... what happened? I mean, I expected the typical Q4 bump for Apple given their release schedule, but that's ridiculous.

I'm insanely curious to see how everything stacks up now over the next year or two.

He's the modern-day equivalent to that guy in the back of the class that screams, "wooh! beer!" when the high school teacher mentions beer while educating about the dangers of alcohol abuse. LOL

Actually, the bigger question is how is Windows Phone 8 doing since ATT is the premier carrier for Windows Phone. Nokia stated they sold 4.4 million Lumias in the 4th quarter worldwide - if that's true then WP8 is still in failure mode - while the WP Central gang is working to find some sliver of hope that their beloved platform is not going the way of WebOS.

Perhaps time to rename the company to "iT&T" or open a separate brand for the iPhone customers. I think it is pretty unique that a single device dominates so completely. It feels almost like they could narrow the product offer down and just sell the iPhone and perhaps the Galaxy S III and upcoming S IV and perhaps an HTC flagship and that would cover everything for them.:)

Well, we have to keep in mind that they were the first carrier in the US to carry the iPhone. I think that some customers just want to stick with what they know.

To each their own.