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AT&T on track for record smartphone sales in 4th quarter

Executive touts success of iPhone 5, Android models and excitement for Windows Phone 8

AT&T is on pace to sell a record number of smartphones in the fourth quarter, with strong sales of the iPhone 5 and Android phones such as the LG Optimus G and HTC One X, AT&T Mobile CEO Ralph de la Vega said today.

AT&T sold 6.4 million smartphones in the first two months of the fourth quarter, compared with 9.4 million for all three months in the fourth quarter of 2011, he said.

For all of 2012, he said AT&T is expected to sell 26 million smartphones. AT&T sold 6.1 million smartphones in the third quarter of 2012. De la Vega spoke at the UBS Global Media and Communications conference, which was webcast.

De la Vega said he is also "really excited" about sales results for the Windows Phones that AT&T is selling, including the Nokia Lumia 920 and HTC 8X. Overall in the market, Windows Phones sales trail those of Android and iPhone.

The expected fourth-quarter smartphone sales record for AT&T tracks with analyst projections for record growth for all smartphone carriers and other retailers globally. IDG on Tuesday said the 2012 holiday season will bring record fourth-quarter shipments to retailers of 224.5 million smartphones, a 39.5% increase over the fourth quarter of 2011. Smartphone shipments worldwide for all of 2012 should hit 717 million, 45% more than shipped in 2011, IDC also said.

De la Vega also disclosed that AT&T signed up 5 million customers in less than four months to its shared data plan called Mobile Share, with one-fourth of them opting for 10 GB of data service or more per month.

De la Vega and Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam spoke at the two-day conference, where both men separately said their companies are exploring the idea of toll-free data plans for customers, where application providers would pick up data usage costs on some wireless services. The concept has been broached for years, and neither executive offered many details.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is [email protected].

See more by Matt Hamblen on Computerworld.com.

Read more about smartphones in Computerworld's Smartphones Topic Center.

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