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AT&T still top dog for iPhone users

Other carriers may have the iPhone now, but it seems AT&T is still the top choice for users of the Apple smartphone.

According to new data from Cambridge, Mass.-based mobile based analytics firm Localytics, AT&T accounts for an estimated 56% of iPhone 4S devices being used right now, while rivals Verizon and Sprint account for, respectively, 32% and 12%. AT&T also has a commanding lead over Verizon when it comes to the iPhone 4, as it still accounts for 60% of iPhone 4 models being used. However, this number is down from earlier this year when Localytics reported that AT&T accounted for 68% of iPhone 4 models being used.

FIRST LOOK: Apple iPhone 4S

Localytics typically collects data by analyzing what devices and carriers mobile users employ to access the estimated 1,500 mobile applications that use Localytics as their analytics software. Localytics has several big-name clients that use its software to monitor traffic on their applications, including Skype, Newscorp and Turner Broadcasting, so its data does capture trends within some high-traffic applications.

Localytics theorizes that AT&T has been able to maintain its lead in its share of iPhone users by aggressively promoting upgrades among its current iPhone users whose previous two-year contracts may be coming to an end.

"Because all Verizon iPhone users are in the first year of their wireless contract, the cost of upgrading will be high," the firm writes. "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."

Apple offered the iPhone exclusively through AT&T from its launch in 2007 until the start of 2011, when it began offering a CDMA-based version of the iPhone 4. Apple began offering its smartphone on the Sprint network this fall with the launch of the iPhone 4S.

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