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AT&T(s t) has already sold 6.4 million smartphones in October and in November, which would make the fourth quarter its second best performing quarter ever even if failed to
set sell a single smartphone in December, AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega said at a UBS conference Tuesday morning. De la Vega’s comments, which were reported by FierceWireless, indicate that AT&T is on pace to have the best smartphone quarter in its history this holiday season.
Last year’s fourth quarter is the current record holder at AT&T. Then Ma Bell activated 9.4 million devices. All of the same factors that drove such huge sales last year are again in place. Most notably Apple(s aapl) kept with its adjusted iPhone launch schedule, which with the iPhone 4S was moved from the early summer to fall. That means AT&T will reap the benefits of a new iPhone release and the traditional Christmas sales boom both in the same three-month period.
There may be incentives for consumers to invest even more heavily in the iPhone this year as opposed to last. The new iPhone 5 not only has a new design and new iOS 6 features, but it is the first Apple smartphone with LTE capabilities. AT&T could also an uptick across its LTE device portfolio due to the huge expansion of its network. At the end of 2011 AT&T had a meager 15-city footprint, but today it offers its new 4G service in 109 markets covering 150 million people.