AT&T vs. Verizon: Answers to the iPhone fallout on deck

AT&T reports its first quarter results on Wednesday and Verizon follows up on Thursday. With these dueling reports, we'll get our first peek at how Apple's iPhone has changed the balance between the two largest wireless carriers in the U.S.

AT&T reports its first quarter results on Wednesday and Verizon follows up on Thursday. With these dueling reports, we'll get our first peek at how Apple's iPhone has changed the balance between the two largest wireless carriers in the U.S.

The consensus appears to be that AT&T has weathered Verizon's best punch with the iPhone. In a nutshell, AT&T hasn't seen a big drop-off in business. Sure, AT&T may lose postpaid subscribers, but the impact will be much less than feared.

"We believe T has held up better than feared in the wake of the mid-February launch of the Verizon iPhone. Driving this strength has been AT&T’s wide selection of handsets as well as the company’s aggressive marketing presence seen since the Verizon iPhone launch," said Wells Fargo analyst Jennifer Fritzsche. Her theory is that AT&T's diversified base of smartphones has offset Verizon's iPhone to some degree.

AT&T is expected to report first quarter earnings of 57 cents a share on revenue of $31.25 billion. Verizon is expected to report first quarter earnings of 50 cents a share on revenue of $26.88 billion. Here are the key questions to ponder as we await these earnings results.

AT&T questions:

  1. How have Android devices sold at AT&T? Any color on Motorola Atrix sales will be helpful. Ditto for Windows Phone 7 sales.
  2. What's the fallout from Verizon's move to offer the iPhone? The consensus guess is that AT&T will lost 57,000 postpaid net adds, but ultimately add 1.65 million net subscribers due to e-readers, tablets and connected devices.
  3. T-Mobile launched a new unlimited plan that's on par with Sprint. What will AT&T do with that plan if it closes the T-Mobile purchase?

Verizon questions

  1. How many iPhone activations were there in the quarter? Morgan Stanley is estimating 2.9 million activations.
  2. What was the activation trend of iPhones through the quarter?
  3. How has the 4G HTC Thunderbolt sold? And what are LTE subscriber additions? That's a roundabout way to get Thunderbolt sales.

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