AT&T Android sales double. Will that encourage carrier to be less iPhone-focused?

April 20, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka

AT&T, Carriers


AT&T has announced its Q1 2011 earnings today, and it was a lot of back-patting thanks to strong numbers in key areas that carriers use to measure company health. AT&T had its third-best smartphone sales quarter in history, and added enough customers to raise its total subscriber number to 97.5 million.

How will those numbers affect AT&T’s smartphone plans going forward?

Even with the threat of a Verizon iPhone, AT&T saw big growth in subscriber numbers. AT&T CFO Rick Lindner said during an earnings call that AT&T expected some dip in sales with the Verizon iPhone finally becoming a reality, but weren’t hurt by the end of exclusivity. In fact, the iPhone accounted for 65 percent of smartphones sold by AT&T last quarter.

However, that doesn’t mean that the company was slacking on the Android front. We’ve already seen important steps towards better Android phones on AT&T with the introduction of the Motorola Atrix and HTC Inspire 4G. With all due respect to the Dell Streak and HTC Aria (and no respect due to the Motorola Backflip), that’s quite the upgrade.

“In the last 6 months, our monthly sales of Android devices has more than doubled…the Android portfolio was very strong,”

-Ralph De La Vega, AT&T Mobility CEO, revealed in AT&T’s earnings call today.

That’s encouraging news that should bode well for people hoping to see AT&T continue to be more Android-friendly. It was initially thought that AT&T would have no choice but to embrace Android once Verizon sold the iPhone, but sales show that Verizon has had little effect on the company’s bottom line. Solid sales numbers for Android products are a more important and enticing reason for AT&T to recognize the need to improve its perception and performance related to Android. The company has already signaled that it might revert on the apk-blocking policy, offer better phones, and put more promotional weight behind its Android devices. Check back during the Q2 2011 calls to see if the progress continues.