Verizon sees iPhone sales double to 4.2 million during holiday quarter

by Phil Hornshaw

The success of smartphones during the fourth quarter of 2011 meant some serious gains for the second U.S. carrier to pick up the iPhone.

Verizon Wireless only released the iPhone 4 in February of 2011, but the fourth quarter last year saw the company’s iPhone sales more than double from Q3, jumping up to 4.2 million, GigaOM reports

The numbers came in an announcement Wednesday from Verizon Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo at a conference. Selling all those iPhones isn’t actually all that great for Verizon though, at least not yet. In the long term, those iPhones will bring Verizon money, but it’s predicting tighter profit margins due to the cost of subsidizing that many iPhones.

The increase in sales were no doubt the result of the release of the iPhone 4S, Apple’s latest iteration of the device and the first to be launched simultaneously on more than one network. AT&T had been the sole carrier for the iPhone until February, when Verizon picked up the iPhone 4. The company saw strong sales of the device then, but many customers were waiting for a brand new iPhone to show up. After all, the release of the Verizon iPhone 4 in February had many speculating that the next iPhone wasn’t too far off.

Overall, the smartphone market saw a big boost over the holidays, with Flurry Analytics reporting that some 6.8 million devices were activated just on Christmas alone. That number covers both iPhones and Google Android smartphones, however, and Google said that it activated 3.7 million smartphones on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. That suggests there were also a whole lot of iPhones sold during the holidays.

As GigaOM states, analysts expect nearly double the iPhones were sold during Q4 2011 as compared to Q3: 30 million sales, versus 17 million during the previous quarter.

Verizon has had some troubles lately, although they probably haven’t had much impact on its iPhone customers. The company suffered from three different outages to its burgeoning 4G network during December, with many customers losing data coverage throughout the month. It issued a statement explaining what was going on, but hasn’t said much in the way of whether customers will be receiving a credit on their accounts because of the outage.

The iPhone currently isn’t set up with 4G technology, but the bad press probably still could have hurt Verizon. At least in terms of Apple fans, however, the second carrier to pick up the popular device isn’t hurting to find people to buy iPhones on its network, it seems.