News Analysis: Record Verizon Wireless first-day sales prove that iPhone buyers really do want another choice. Despite the carping of naysayers, it looks like sales of Verizon iPhones will live up to all the pre-release hype.
Verizon Wireless reports that iPhone sales on the first
day of availability for existing customers broke all first day sales records in
the company's history. In fact, the sales record was broken 5 a.m. on Feb. 3 and it had to cut
off sales shortly after 8 p.m
. on the first day of availability, according
Demand was so great that the company will open up sales
again to existing Verizon Wireless customers on Feb. 7, the day before the
iPhone goes on sale to the general public.
Contrast this with the many e-mails I've received over
the months since I first reported, in June of 2010, that Verizon Wireless would
be selling the iPhone in early 2011. I was told by many that all iPhone
customers had already bought their phones, and there would be little
I was told that the users would reject Verizon's 3G
network because they couldn't talk on the phone and browse the Web at the same
time. I was even told there was no need for a Verizon
iPhone because AT&T's network was better
and faster (I think that
e-mail came from an AT&T shill).
But the fact is that the demand for a CDMA version of the
highly popular iPhone exceeded
Verizon's wildest expectations.
The Verizon Website had problems dealing
with the traffic all day and users were reporting problems ordering their
iPhones starting early that morning. But clearly whatever issues there were,
they weren't bad enough to keep people from buying them at a rate that
exhausted Verizon's supply. I don't think you can reasonably say that Verizon's
customers were rejecting the iPhone.
So why the huge demand? In part because Verizon customers
especially want the iPhone because they're already Verizon customers. They know
that Verizon's network works for them, they know they've got coverage where
they need it and they know that they'll get the service they expect at the
price they expect. Leaving a mobile phone carrier that works well for you isn't
something most people do lightly. Putting aside the contract issues, there's a
level of comfort in staying with a known quantity.
But there's another reason. Many buyers want an
iPhone, but not so badly that they are willing to move to AT&T. That
company's service problems are legendary, coverage can be spotty and the
service is expensive.
While a lot of people are willing to put up with anything
to be cool, a lot of people aren't. If they're going to buy a smartphone, it
needs to actually make phone calls and do e-mail. AT&T failed many users in
that most basic of smartphone requirements and as a result a lot of potential
iPhone customers stayed away.