The iPhone 4S (s aapl) launched on three U.S. carriers simultaneously for the first time ever, but AT&T (s t) still takes home the gold in terms of the choices made by 4S customers when it comes to mobile networks, according to a new study by app analytics firm Localytics to be released Thursday.
Localytics found that of the iPhone 4S devices running apps using its popular analytics platform, 56 percent use AT&T for voice and data services, while Verizon (s vz) comes in second with 32 percent, and Sprint (s s) is a distant third with just 12 percent of all iPhone 4S impressions.
Judging by the numbers, Sprint seems to have taken more customers from Verizon than from the market-leading AT&T, since the iPhone 4 split between AT&T and Verizon is 60/40. Localytics points out that the differences may be attributable to the fact that AT&T has a larger pool of existing subscribers who are eligible for contract renewal, and therefore subsidized pricing on iPhone hardware, whereas Verizon’s iPhone customers have just locked in to two-year contracts as of earlier this year, when the iPhone 4 made its debut on the network.
AT&T boasted earlier that it had signed up 1 million iPhone 4S users in just its first four days of availability, more activations than for any previous iPhone launch. During its last quarterly earnings call, Verizon (s vz) said it activated 2 million iPhones during its last complete fiscal quarter, which is close to the 2.7 million activations AT&T claimed during the same period, but the Localytics data suggests the 4S could be widening the gap once again.
AT&T is also the only U.S. carrier that can offer HSPA+ speeds for the iPhone 4S, since both Verizon and Sprint’s networks use CDMA tech, which doesn’t support the boosted 3G network capabilities. Faster data speeds could be especially attractive to customers considering a device like the iPhone, which has a strong focus on data connectivity, but a lot of AT&T’s advantages at this point can probably still be attributed to its early exclusivity deals and strong existing iPhone customer base.
As we enter the holiday season, which usually see strong numbers in terms of iPhone sales, it’ll be interesting to see how the carrier distribution landscape continues to change.