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iPhone 3G drives AT&T's quarter, outselling Storm four to one


While AT&T on Wednesday credited sales of 1.9 million iPhone 3Gs for helping to drive its fiscal fourth-quarter results, rival carrier Verizon won't tell how many BlackBerry Storms were sold in its first quarter on the market.

Today AT&T announced full-year earnings per share of $2.16, up from $1.94 for 2007.  The Dallas-based telecom giant posted $0.41 earnings per share (EPS) for the fourth quarter, attributing it directly to its partnership with Apple.

"Fourth-quarter EPS reflects the success of AT&T's iPhone 3G launch," the company said in a statement.  AT&T activated 4.3 million iPhone 3G devices in the second half of 2008 nationwide, including 1.9 million in the fourth quarter.  About 40 percent of iPhone activations were for customers switching from a different provider.

"iPhone 3G continues to deliver high-value subscribers with significantly higher average monthly revenues per subscriber and lower churn (subscribers leaving) than AT&T's postpaid subscriber average," the company added.

Meanwhile, New York-based Verizon reported its results Tuesday without details of its iPhone challenger that launched in November.  Where the Research In Motion smartphone was briefly mentioned in the results report, the terms were vague.

"Customers across the country lined up to purchase the new BlackBerry Storm," Verizon's release said.  "The Storm offers customers the reliability of the Verizon Wireless 3G network and the full power of a revolutionary touch-screen, multimedia smartphone with global connectivity."

According to the Wall Street Journal, Verizon activated about 500,000 Storms nationwide.  The iPhone sold almost four times as many in the fourth quarter with 1.9 million units.

Comparing results in each device's first quarter on the market, Apple's iPhone 3G saw five times the number of U.S. activations than the Storm, or 2.4 million.

Earlier this week, RIM and Verizon's eagerness to launch the device before the holiday shopping season was outlined as a possible explanation for the Storm's rocky debut.  Poor reviews and early adopter complaints have hampered the success of the device, which some reports claim was rushed to market before it was ready.

Research In Motion's co-chief executive officer Jim Balsillie said software patches will help improve the Storm, acknowledging flawed software, but argued that bugs in complex phones are the "new reality."