Digging in Domestically With the iPhone

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) just posted its earnings figures last night, almost at the exact same time that domestic main flame AT&T (NYSE: T  ) put up its own digits. Last week, Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) shared its iPhone figures, and this morning Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S  ) told investors how many iPhones it activated during the quarter.

With all the domestic data in hand, let's dig in.

Data deluge
Apple sold a total of 37.4 million iPhones during the first quarter, representing a moderate beat relative to consensus estimates. That included 4 million iPhones on Verizon, 4.8 million iPhones on AT&T, and 1.5 million iPhones on Sprint.

Technically, Leap Wireless (UNKNOWN: LEAP.DL  ) is another iPhone carrier in the U.S. with its Cricket brand, but its iPhone sales haven't been meaningful enough for the carrier to disclose specific figures. What investors do know is that the prepaid carrier is well behind schedule on meeting its purchase commitment, so it's safe to say Cricket iPhones aren't moving the needle meaningfully one way or another. T-Mobile is now an iPhone carrier, but that launched after the quarter closed.

Between the top three carriers, there were 10.3 million iPhones activated, or 28% of Apple's total. That composition is down sequentially from 36% last quarter, and in line with historical precedent following launch quarters. Each carrier saw a modest downtick in its contribution to total iPhone units.

Sources: SEC filings and conference calls.

The iPhone's composition of total smartphone sales also remained on par with historical levels for each carrier.


iPhone Activations

Total Smartphones

iPhone %


4 million

7.2 million



4.8 million

6 million



1.5 million

5 million



10.3 million

18.2 million


Sources: SEC filings and conference calls.

Keep in mind that Sprint is also on the hook for a $15.5 billion iPhone purchase commitment over four years. Using quarter-specific iPhone average selling prices and Sprint's reported activations implies that the No. 3 carrier has likely fulfilled approximately $6.3 billion of its obligation over the past six quarters. That means Sprint may be 41% through its $15.5 billion commitment through 38% of the time frame -- slightly ahead of schedule. Too bad Leap can't say the same thing.

Apple's domestic domination has been well documented, accounting for over half of all smartphones activated among the top three carriers. Investors still want to know whether Apple remains a buy. The Motley Fool's senior technology analyst and managing bureau chief, Eric Bleeker, is prepared to fill you in on reasons to buy and reasons to sell Apple, and what opportunities are left for the company (and your portfolio) going forward. To get instant access to his latest thinking on Apple, simply click here now.

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