AT&T has huge Q4 of smartphone sales – Android crushed by iPhone

January 26, 2012 | by Andrew Kameka


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We’ve been in the habit of reporting so much about Android’s incredible sales that it’s sometimes jarring to hear when the green bot isn’t racing towards the top. On at least one U.S. carrier, Android’s raced toward record sales, but it got lapped several times in the process.

AT&T released its fourth quarter earnings for 2011 and reported that it had the “best-ever quarter” of smartphone sales: 9.4 million activations. Most of those activations, 7.6 million to be precise, were for the iPhone. That leaves only 1.8 million sales between Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone 7.

Q4 2011 featured 50 percent more sales than the previous quarterly record, and nearly double the sales registered in Q3 2011. It was a brightspot in a not-so-sunny time for AT&T, which failed to acquire T-Mobile USA. The company must have been ecstatic to finally have some good news to share.

But for Android fans, seeing such a discrepancy in sales might cause slight nervousness. AT&T neglected Android and didn’t release quality devices until 2011. Could such a huge preference for iPhone among subscribers cause the carrier to not try as hard to deliver top of the line Android devices? I wouldn’t go that far just yet because AT&T will always need to support an iPhone alternative to give consumers choice. But with 80 percent of AT&T subscribers last quarter opting for an iPhone, there may need to be a better crop of choices.

Notes from today’s earnings call:

  • AT&T has 74 millions LTE pops. Network coverage will double in 2010, and 80 percent of US population will be covered in 2013.
  • Android sales were double what they were in Q4 2010, a sign that AT&T greatly improved its Android offerings
  • Call quality saw an increase from the the depiction of AT&T as a poor network. 3G call retention is at 99% since September.