iphone Holding AT&T Back

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Empty pockets and tight budgets are in style this season, but it looks like Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) missed the memo. The company reported an unfashionably prosperous third fiscal quarter, growing its revenue nearly 12 percent year over year to US$8.34 billion. Its gross margins shot up to 36.3 percent, compared to last year’s 34.8.

Where did it all come from? Well, there was a 4 percent uptick in Mac sales, which may have something to do with the Macbook improvements it’s made over the last year. iPod sales actually trailed off by 7 percent. The real star was the iPhone, and the release of the new 3GS model and a price cut on the old version managed to move 5.2 million units, representing growth of 626 percent. That’s 5.2 million iPhones sold in Q3 alone.

Almost all of those sold in the U.S. — along with the many millions sold in previous quarters — send a handful of cash AT&T’s (NYSE: T) way every month in the form of mobile data fees. So the iPhone must be great for AT&T’s bottom line, right? Not entirely.

AT&T also pays a big fat subsidy on most of the new iPhones it sells. As iPhone sales accelerate, so do AT&T’s expenses. Sure, the idea is to eventually get the money back — and then some — by chaining you to a contract for a couple of years. But for now, it just has to keep feeding the beast. That grocery bill ground down the company’s profit by 15 percent in its second quarter this year.

Also, iPhone users tend to deal with a lot more wireless data than other smartphone users — all that browsing and Facebooking and Twittering and app downloading really adds up. AT&T has has to pump money into its 3G infrastructure just to keep pace. So, when the iPhone 4G eventually comes out — you just know it’s gonna happen someday — who knows whether AT&T or someone like Verizon would be the best carrier for the job?

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3G homepage.com
The Number 1 Homepage Download into 3G Mobile/Cell Phones

ADD OUR FEED: COPY THIS ADDRESS INTO YOUR NEWSREADER: http://3ghomepage.com/wordpress

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