Study: 56% of U.S. iPhone 4S users are AT&T customers

AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) is currently the dominant U.S. carrier for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 4S, according to a report from mobile application analytics firm Localytics. The report found that AT&T customers represent 56 percent of U.S. iPhone 4S users.

Localytics also said that Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) has 32 percent of U.S. iPhone 4S users and Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) commanded 12 percent of the iPhone 4S market. The report said that Sprint appears to have eroded more of Verizon's market share than AT&T's, since AT&T previously had 60 percent of the iPhone 4 market and Verizon had 40 percent. The data is based on app usage observed by Localytics.

All three carriers, and now C Spire Wireless, sell the iPhone 4S for the same prices: $199.99 for the 16GB model, $299.99 for the 32GB model and $399.99 for the 64GB model, with a two-year contract.

The statistics are not that surprising for several reasons. One is that AT&T simply may have sold more iPhone 4Ss than the other carriers. AT&T said it activated more than 1 million iPhone 4Ss in five days after the device went on sale Oct. 14. Overall, Apple said it sold 4 million iPhone 4Ss around the world in its first weekend of availability.

One technical advantage AT&T may have is that the iPhone 4S supports HSDPA speeds up to 14.4 Mbps--faster than CDMA EV-DO data provided by Verizon and Sprint.

Additionally, where customers are in the course of their contract likely could have an effect on how many customers bought or upgraded to the iPhone 4S.

"A likely driver for these differences is the fact that AT&T can mine its existing base of iPhone users," Localytics noted. "Because all Verizon iPhone users are in the first year of their wireless contract, the cost of upgrading will be high. However, many longer-term AT&T users, especially those holding iPhone 3GS and earlier devices, are off-contract or nearing the end of their contract. AT&T has been aggressively leveraging the iPhone 4S to sign these customers to new two-year contracts, and the data in this study suggests that tactic may be working."

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