Record AT&T iPhone, Smartphone Sales Still Worries Investors

At the Consumer Electronics Show, AT&T announced that it had sold a record number of Apple iPhone smartphones as well as Android devices for the fourth quarter of 2012. The 10 million sales number bests the record-setting number of 9.4 million devices sold in the same quarter of 2011.

Though AT&T had posted record-setting numbers for Q4 2012, there are some reasons for concerns. Increased smartphone penetration in recent years have slowed the adoption and growth of the smartphone market. The number shows an increase in smartphone sales of about 6 percent from the previous record setting quarter. Compared to data from earlier years, BGR reports that this shows that sales are slowing for AT&T in the smartphone department.

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This is a problem. When AT&T sold 9.4 million smartphones in Q4 2011, that number was 50% higher than the previous quarterly record. A year later, AT&T delivers another smartphone record quarter. But this one is only 6-11% higher than the previous record.

When AT&T sold 9.4 million smartphones in Q4 2011, that number was 50% higher than the previous quarterly record. A year later, AT&T delivers another smartphone record quarter. But this one is only 6-11% higher than the previous record.

logoAnd AT&T’s keynote presentation at the Consumer Electronics Show this year is even more worrisome in the area of smartphone and tablet growth. This year, the keynote didn’t mention any smartphones, though the carrier did send out a press release quietly announcing the Pantech Discover smartphone. Compared to 2012’s CES where AT&T announced 6 new devices, including two new flagships such as the Nokia Lumia 900 and the Samsung Galaxy Note phablet, AT&T’s 2013 CES is more quiet and subdued.

But that doesn’t mean that AT&T is slowing down. Though the carrier’s smartphone sales may be slowing compared to previous years, AT&T is, as the carrier’s motto says, rethinking possible with emerging solutions such as its Digital Life vision for connected cars and homes. AT&T is also venturing in a new area in the form of home security and the company is poised to compete with long-time players in this market like ADT.

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Emerging solutions and emerging devices have been a common theme for wireless carriers. Sprint has had a research center in the Bay Area to focus on connected cars, homes, and solutions for medical and emergency response. Verizon Wireless had announced a car diagnostic hardware tool at the Consumer Electronics Show, and all three carriers are looking to enter the car infotainment and dashboard market.

As sales of traditional devices where wireless connectivity is embedded slows, new connected markets will emerge and carriers are strategically eyeing these opportunities,

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