By MARTIN PEERS
So much for the idea that Verizon Wireless's iPhone launch was a disappointment.
That was the conventional wisdom in the weeks after Verizon started selling the Apple device in early February. The lines at Verizon stores weren't long, admittedly. But judging by March quarter results from Verizon Wireless majority owner Verizon Communications, AT&T and Apple, it is difficult to see any reason to complain.
Verizon disclosed Thursday it activated 2.2 million iPhones in less than eight weeks after the device's launch. Combined with AT&T's 3.6 million for the full quarter, 5.8 million new iPhones were sold from January to March, the highest quarterly number in the U.S. ever. The previous peak of 5.2 million, on AT&T's network alone, came in the third quarter of last year, when the iPhone 4 was first out.
All three companies benefited. Verizon saw net additions of valuable contract customers more than double to 906,000. Helped by cutting the price on the older iPhone model, the 3GS, AT&T kept its iPhone sales strong—and managed to avoid a net reduction in contract customers.
The real winner, of course, was Apple. The U.S. surge helped total iPhone sales in the quarter more than double—without, apparently, any reduction in its wholesale price. Apple has stopped disclosing its average selling price, but Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi estimates the ASP rose to $660 from $645 in the prior quarter. That suggests Apple didn't cut its wholesale price for the older model when AT&T began discounting it.
Indeed, while Nokia shipped nearly six times as many handsets as Apple in the quarter, Apple generated more handset revenue, Strategy Analytics noted. Apple could use more disappointing quarters like this one.
Write to Martin Peers at email@example.com