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Verizon (s vz) sold 4.2 million iPhones (s aapl) during the fourth quarter of 2011, according to CFO Fran Shammo speaking at a conference on Wednesday, StreetInsider reported Wednesday. That’s more than twice as many iPhone devices as it sold during the previous quarter, an increase no doubt spurred by the launch of the iPhone 4S.
The sales of Apple’s device is actually not all that beneficial in the immediate future for Verizon itself, which is predicting a narrower profit margin because of all the upfront costs of subsidizing that many devices. For customers who sign up for a new contract to get reduced pricing on an iPhone, Verizon must pay the additional costs to Apple, with the idea being that the carrier will recoup those costs in service and usage fees over the course of a customer’s contract. Verizon indicated during the conference that it does expect iPhone margins to improve, though it didn’t provide a specific timeframe for when this would occur.
Sales more than doubling at one of its major U.S. carrier partners is definitely good news for Apple, both in the near- and long-term. Analysts have been predicting upward of 30 million iPhones sold for Apple’s holiday quarter, which would be almost double the 17 million it sold during the previous quarter. Apple reports its results for that quarter on Jan. 24, so that’s when we’ll find out for sure whether it met or exceeded those lofty expectations.