AT&T reported its second quarter earnings on Tuesday and the headline grabber appears to be the fact that Ma Bell activated 146,000 iPhone subscribers in two days.
But there are a few caveats before the "iPhone is disappointing" chorus gets going.
For starters, AT&T's activations account for only two days before the June 30 end of the quarter. Also consider that AT&T only reported activations--not sales of iPhones. Meanwhile, if you recall AT&T had a bear of a time getting iPhones activated. Folks bought their iPhones and waited--or had to wait--days to activate. Those days matter when you have two days to go before the end of a quarter.
It's unclear how many activations missed the second quarter cut. For its part, AT&T noted "sales of the iPhone continue to be strong in July with store traffic above historical levels."
Bottom line: Before calling the iPhone (blog focus) a bomb it makes sense to reserve judgment until Apple reports its earnings tomorrow. Another consideration: Depending on Apple's revenue sharing deal with Ma Bell Steve Jobs & Co. is making out just fine. The AT&T consternation may look silly when Apple reports to-date iPhone sales figures.
But let's not obsess with the iPhone. AT&T is much larger than that. A few observations:
- Aided by the BellSouth acquisition, AT&T reported second quarter revenue of $29.5 billion, up from $15.8 billion a year ago. Net income was $2.9 billion. Wall Street estimates are a bit of a wash given the new, bulked up AT&T.
- AT&T reported "substantially improved trends in enterprise services." Enterprise revenue was $4.8 billion, up 2 percent from the first quarter, but down 2.1 percent a year ago. So how do you get "improved trends" out of those sales? Enterprise revenue didn't decline.
- Wireless subscribers came in at 64.7 million. Wireless revenue was up 12.7 percent to $10.4 billion. Wireless data revenue was up 67 percent to $1.7 billion. Churn in the wireless business was 1.2 percent, down from 1.5 percent a year earlier.
- Ma Bell said that its U-verse initiative--think FiOS rival--are in line with expectations. AT&T had 51,000 U-verse video subscribers, up from 13,000 three months ago.
- The company said the AT&T-BellSouth integration plans are on track and it saved $1.9 billion in the first half of 2007.