When the iPhone debuted exclusively on AT&T's network in 2008, the world's best-known phone proved to be a boon for business. Even though many customers, myself included, complained about AT&T's service, particularly in the nation's big metro areas, we stuck with AT&T because we liked the iPhone. So, when Apple teamed up with Verizon to start offering the iPhone on Verizon's network earlier this year, analysts worried what it might do to AT&T's business.
With the release of their results from last quarter today, now we know. The picture isn't pretty, despite an AT&T representative calling the competition from Verizon "overblown." Last year during the first quarter of the calendar year, AT&T added 512,000 new subscribers. This year, after you subtract out tablet signups to compare apples-to-apples, AT&T added just 4,000 new net subscribers. That is to say, almost no one wanted to sign up for a new AT&T phone contract in the last three months. Update: It is important to note that AT&T experienced strong growth in other "connected devices" like Amazon Kindles, which also run on the company's cell network.
I think the fact remains, though, that company's growth in its bread-and-butter cell phone service business stalled after it lost iPhone exclusivity. To satisfy Wall Street, the company's will have to stay focused on pushing through its acquisition of T-Mobile, which is sure to face intense government scrutiny.