Verizon iPhone No Sweat for AT&T After All?

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After Verizon launched its iPhone in February, predictions for the fate of former iPhone-exclusive heavyweight AT&T were less than winning: revenue losses and a mass exodus of customers.

It looks like all those analysts and pundits were overly dour. AT&T is reporting that even with the added competition, profits during the first quarter tallied $3.41 billion – up 39 percent from $2.45 billion a year earlier. The company even activated 3.6 million iPhones during the period, nearly a million more than the same period a year ago.

These are surprisingly strong figures for a company putatively “doomed” by Verizon’s arrival on the iPhone scene. In fact, the company had its best-ever first-quarter increase in total wireless subscribers, now boasting 97.5 million, up 2 million during the quarter.

“We entered this quarter with some uncertainty, especially regarding the iPhone,” AT&T Chief Financial Officer Rick Lindner said during the quarterly conference call, reports CNET. “Hopefully, we answered those concerns. We saw a small increase in postpaid churn, but the impacts are significantly less than everyone on Wall Street or in the media had expected. Frankly, it was less than what we expected.”

On the flip side, the number of new subscribers plummeted to a record low of 62,000. In previous quarters, the number had been above one million. That said, it’s better than the 83,000 customers AT&T was expected to lose.

Those losses don’t necessarily translate to Verizon gains. The company said its “churn rate” – the rate at which subscribers defected to other carriers – barely increased to 1.36% from 1.3%. The turnover was even lower among customers with contracts.

Take that, Verizon? Well, until Thursday, that is. That’s when Verizon’s expected to release its own first-quarter results–projected to show stronger customer growth.

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