Maybe you were expecting the largely reformed Ma Bell to report 5 million iPhone activations in the second quarter, since Apple sold 5.4 million handsets. But then you're forgetting that Apple sells these beasts worldwide, with more than 80 countries on the customer list. So if Apple ever decides to take its ball and go home to Verizon
Then again, AT&T could live without the iPhone too. $30.7 billion of quarterly revenue -- essentially flat from last year -- gives AT&T a big stick, no matter how softly it may speak. That translates into $0.54 of net earnings per share, down from $0.63 per share last year but still a substantial profit haul.
Around 800,000 of those iPhone activations were new customers to AT&T. The company added 1.4 million net new subscribers total, meaning that the much-vaunted iPhone 3GS sure helped AT&T grow -- but wasn't anywhere near the whole growth story.
AT&T sold 1.1 million new 3G-enabled smartphones not named iPhone this quarter, such as the Nokia
What's more, smartphones don't stand for all of AT&T's growth opportunities. The U-verse faux-cable TV service, which taps into existing copper cable to deliver service not unlike Verizon's fiber-optic FiOS products, saw 18% growth in the quarter. The wireless market is pretty mature already: AT&T Wireless has 79.6 million subscribers and Verizon Wireless can boast at least 86.6 million wireless accounts. But the telecom-backed TV broadcasting services are carving out a whole new market. Verizon's FiOS has 2.2 million TV customers, and U-verse is trailing with 1.6 million clients.
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Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Google, but he holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings or a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.