Verizon Communications reported its first quarter earnings today, and in general the news is good. The company's wireless unit added 734,000 customers, including more than 500,000 post-paid subscribers. Verizon's wireless revenue came in at $15.4 billion, with profits of $3.9 billion. Its profit swelled by 15.7% compared to this quarter last year.
According to Verizon, the uptake of smartphones continues in its customer ranks. The carrier boasts 93 million total retail customers, of which 88 million are post-paid (the more profitable kind of customer). Verizon said that 47% of its customers now carry smartphones rather than feature phones, up from last quarter's 43.5% adoption rate.
Smartphone adoption isn't on the rise only at Verizon Wireless; it's an industry-wide trend. All the major carriers have reported an increasing percentage of customers carrying smartphones, and overall smartphone sales already exceed those of dumb phones. The sale price of smartphones has dropped from the once astronomical $400 - $600 range down to a much more palatable $100 - $200 for most models. This, and somewhat lower voice/data plan combos, have made smartphones more appealing to more people.
[ Looking for ways to make your Android device work smarter? See 10 Ways To Get More From Android Devices. ]
The carrier sold 2.9 million LTE devices during the first quarter. That includes mobile hotspots, laptop dongles, tablets, and smartphones. Just over 2.1 million of the LTE devices sold were smartphones, and Verizon said that 9.1% of its user base has adopted 4G, compared to 6% in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Looking at Verizon's device roster, all its LTE 4G products that have an operating system run Google's Android platform. This includes devices such as the Motorola Droid 4, RAZR and RAZR MAXX; the LG Lucid and Spectrum; the Samsung Stratosphere and Galaxy Nexus; and the HTC Rezound. In sum, there are 11 Android smartphones available from Verizon with LTE 4G on board.
Verizon sold 1.1 million more 3G iPhones in the first quarter than it did all LTE 4G Android smartphones combined. So much for the appeal of 4G.
However, Verizon's iPhone sales were down compared to the fourth quarter of 2011, when it sold 4.3 million of Apple's darling little phone. The holiday quarter included the launch of Apple's iPhone 4S, which went on sale in October. Considering the iPhone's position against all of the Android smartphones in Verizon's arsenal, I think the appeal of the device is clear. If and when the Apple iPhone gains access to Verizon and AT&T's LTE networks, it may be an even bigger smash hit than it already is.
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