If you take a look at AT&T’s latest quarterly numbers, you have to be impressed with the apparent competitive advantage that the iPhone has given them, at least initially. They added 6 million gross wireless subscribers, which is the best on record for quarterly growth in the wireless industry. That beat their 2006 4th quarter comparative number by almost 10%. They had a total net addition of 2.7 million subscribers, 1.2 million of which were postpaid net additions, which amounts to an impressive 37% gain from the previous year’s 4th quarter, also a record. Churn was also reduced by 10 basis points from the previous year’s 4th quarter. At the end of the 4th quarter, AT&T had 2 million iPhone customers. AT&T claims that 40% of those current iPhone customers came to AT&T from other carriers.
It’s somewhat difficult to draw comparisons to their chief rival Verizon, because Verizon won’t report 4th quarter results until January 28th. But it’s safe to say that the iPhone had a definite positive impact on their record growth numbers and provided them a solid competitive advantage. Its impact will surely grow as well, because AT&T reported that wireless data revenue grew by 57% and now represents 20% of their total wireless revenue and $12/month of wireless ARPU. The iPhone is a data heavy device and will only add to these data numbers. Early returns look good for AT&T and their decision to become the exclusive iPhone retailer.