Those who suspected Verizon customers were waiting for the iPhone 4S before pulling the iOS trigger may have been correct: the carrier has announced it sold 4.2 million iPhones in the fourth quarter of 2011. The number more than doubles the units sold in the third quarter of the year, when the iPhone 4 was the only model Verizon had to offer. Even more impressive, it bests the 4.1 million iPhone activations AT&T boasted about for the holiday quarter of 2010 — even though Verizon has only carried Apple's device for less than a year.
It's not all upside, however. Despite the increased sales, Verizon actually saw its profit margins shrink due to the higher carrier subsidies Apple negotiates. Still, we can't imagine the carrier is complaining about the new customers that are signing up for two-year contracts. We won't have a sense of AT&T's holiday sales numbers until its earnings call on January 26th, but with Big Red's LTE rollout continuing at a breakneck pace, and an LTE iPhone rumored for next year, we wouldn't be surprised to see Ma Bell's iPhone sales overtaken sooner rather than later.