AT&T Sells 8.6M iPhones, Still Lost $6B

AT&T Q4 2012 iPhone sales hit 8.6 millionAT&T reported selling 8.6 million iPhones during its fourth fiscal quarter for 2013, making up about 85 percent of the company's smartphone sales. 16 percent of its iPhone activations were new customers, indicating Apple's combination iPod and smartphone still draws in new subscribers.

Adding Android OS sales into the mix brought AT&T's quarterly smartphone sales up to 10.2 million units. The company also saw an increase of 780,000 subscribers for the quarter, bringing the total up to 1.1 million with 69.9 percent of its total subscribers -- about 47.1 million -- using smartphones.

About 55 percent of AT&T's smartphone customers are using LTE-capable devices. The carrier has been expanding its LTE coverage areas and expects to provide the faster wireless coverage to at least 250 million subscribers by the end of the year.

In comparison, Verizon sold 6.2 million iPhones during the same quarter with total smartphone activations hitting 9.8 million.

Apple reported selling 47.8 million iPhones during its December quarter, along with 22.9 million iPads. The company also reported US$54.5 billion in revenue with $13.1 billion profit while AT&T reported $32.6 billion revenue with a $6 billion operating loss.

Despite the loss, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson called 2012 excellent for the company, stating "We grew revenues, increased adjusted earnings per share by 8.5 percent and generated cash from operations at record levels. We used this cash to invest aggressively in the future of our business and returned $23 billion to shareowners through dividends and share repurchases."

The company's operating loss was, in fact, down year-over-year. Q4 2011 saw a $9 billion loss, so a $6 billion loss is a marked improvement.

Mr. Randall expects 2013 to be a good year for AT&T. "We're off to a strong start executing Project VIP, our plan to expand our high-growth platforms to millions more customers, and our 4G LTE network deployment is ahead of schedule, delivering outstanding performance," he said.