AT&T announced its quarterly earnings and confirmed that it activated 4.1 million iPhones in the final quarter of 2010. This number is down 1.1 million from the 5.2 million activated in Q3 2010. The wireless carrier posted its best-ever quarterly growth with the addition of 2.8 million net subscribers. Yearly, the company added 8.9 million net subscribers.
The wireless carrier overtook Verizon Wireless as the nation's largest wireless carrier last year, with 95.5 million subscribers versus Verizon's 94.1 million. In its last pre-iPhone quarter, Verizon added only 955,000 subscribers, almost one third less than its rival AT&T. With the iPhone 4 slated to land on Verizon in February, the two carriers may jockey for this #1 position over the next few months.
Tablets were also a strong performer for AT&T in Q4 2010. The carrier activated 442,000 tablets in Q4 2010, which include both the Apple iPad and Android tablets such as the Dell Streak and the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Both the iPhone and iPad contributed to AT&T's 27.4 percent growth in wireless data revenues, up $1.1 billion from the year-earlier quarter.
Looking ahead, AT&T expects continued subscriber gains and strong smartphone sales. AT&T admits that reliable projections may be difficult to make due to volatility from the Verizon iPhone. While iPhone activations may decline, the carrier expects Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone handsets as well as tablet devices, like the iPad, to pick up the slack.