AT&T announced this morning that it activated 4.1 million iPhones during Q4 and 442,000 tablets, including Apple’s iPad and Google Android tablets (so, mostly iPads).
Bigger picture, it posted its best-ever quarter of wireless subscriber growth: 2.8 million net subscriber additions.
The number of tablet activations strikes us as low. Assuming about one-third of Apple’s 7 million iPad shipments last quarter were in the U.S., and then a modest sprinkling of Samsung Galaxy Tab activations, that suggests that a relatively small percentage of tablet buyers are activating 3G data service for them.
That should further reduce expectations for carrier retail stores as an important distribution point for tablets. (Indeed, in an unscientific poll of Business Insider readers, only 6% of respondents said they’d buy a tablet at a carrier store or website.)
Meanwhile, the 4.1 million iPhone activations is down more than 1 million from 5.2 million during Q3, when Apple’s new iPhone 4 was on fire. But it’s AT&T’s second-best iPhone quarter ever. It also shows how the iPhone is growing overseas: AT&T only represented about 1/4 of iPhone activations in Q4, down from about 1/3 in Q3.
Now we’ll see how those numbers look at the end of this quarter, once Verizon Wireless starts selling the iPhone 4.