Why Verizon's so-so iPhone launch makes me smile

Why Verizon's so-so iPhone launch makes me smile

Summary: Data points are mounting that Verizon Wireless' launch of the iPhone was a so-so affair and the biggest takeaway is that tech buyers are a lot smarter than you think. Consumers aren't drones that will just go out and buy whatever is pitched to them.

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Data points are mounting that Verizon Wireless' launch of the iPhone was a so-so affair and the biggest takeaway is that tech buyers are a lot smarter than you think. Consumers aren't drones that will just go out and buy whatever is pitched to them.

BGR reports that Verizon iPhone sales at five Apple stores have been so-so. Actually by time day five of the launch was done Verizon and AT&T iPhone sales weren't all that different. Note that BGR's report doesn't include Verizon Wireless store sales, but the findings are similar to other estimates.

The big takeaway here is that folks aren't going to instantly jump ship from AT&T. In fact, contracts dictate that they probably can't.

Galleries: Verizon iPhone 4 Teardown

More notable, however, is that consumers may just be waiting for the iPhone 5. Why buy now when a new model lands in just a few months? Toss in the fact that Verizon Wireless is about to launch LTE devices and there is no reason to buy a smartphone right now. As for my personal situation---detailed previously---I basically punted. I bought an HTC Incredible with a one-year contract and will upgrade in December.

BGR's report adds to other anecdotal data points. For instance, Barclays Capital analyst James Ratcliffe called Verizon's iPhone launch "smooth, but quiet" in a Feb. 11 research report. Ratcliffe wrote:

Our proprietary survey of over 75 locations selling the Verizon iPhone largely supports our view that the VZ iPhone launch, while material to both Verizon and AT&T, is not likely to radically reshape the industry landscape. Supply was ample, with very few locations reporting sellouts. Overall traffic appears to have been moderate, due to the ease of online preordering for existing VZ customers and (possibly) the weather. Most customers were either upgrading from existing VZ products, or switching from AT&T iPhones. A number of Apple Store and Best Buy staffers expressed skepticism about the benefits of switching from AT&T to VZ.

In Ratcliffe's survey he aggregated the following comments.

  • Apple store sales people were really surprised at “how slow” the traffic had been.
  • Verizon store in Chicago “I have more iPhones left than I thought there would be at 9am, and we have been open for over two hours now.” – Chicago, IL

Hudson Square Research did its own exit polling and surveyed 131 consumers in line in various states. Daniel Ernst, an analyst at Hudson Square, said the Verizon store in update New York was busiest (with 35 people in line), but most lines were non-existent. Like BGR reported most iPhone buyers were giving up BlackBerries.

Related:

Topics: Verizon, Enterprise Software, Hardware, iPhone, Mobility, Smartphones, AT&T

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60 comments
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  • RE: Why Verizon's so-so iPhone launch makes me smile

    Or... Americans just like freedom.
    tatiGmail
  • It might have been very different...

    If it had come out in white.
    Mac Hosehead
  • Lopsided viewpoint

    1) Pre-ordering on the web of the iPhone 4 for Verizon was pretty huge. They started at 3AM and were sold out in 2 hours. Which means there were a LOT of people up in the middle of the night when they would normally be sleeping. In other words, a sign of people going out of the way.

    2) AT&T's dropped calls are the butt of jokes but the markets where it's been an acute problem are San Francisco and New York City. I'm in Seattle proper and I generally get 5 bars on my iPhone. Most areas I find myself in have good reception and data throughput is excellent. In other words while SanFran and NYC are major markets, combined they don't weigh more than the # of callers in the rest of the US.

    3) People are under contract. Unless you're in SF or NYC do you really want to break your contract if AT&T drops your calls only once in a great while? Objectively speaking.

    -M
    betelgeuse68
    • I think you've nailed it.

      @betelgeuse68 Why would there be lines outside stores? VZW customers could pre-order a week in advance, and even non-VZW customers could pre-order the day before.

      The timing was off for just about everyone except for the hardest core "get me off of AT&T [b]now[/b]!" Unless you got an iPhone 3G for Christmas in 2008, you're looking at a "good money after bad" ETF to AT&T. Better to wait until June/July when all those 3GS owners can jump ship to iPhone 5 for only the VZW activation and number porting fee.

      As for SF, it's not even all of SF. At my desk in SOMA, nowhere near a window I've got full signal. However once I cross Market or get east of 7th things get ugly. Verizon's CDMA network will help some with that, but how it handles the full influx of new, data-hungry iPhone users remains to be seen. Plus, the talk-or-surf-only nature of the CDMA iPhone may be a bigger issue than people think.
      matthew_maurice
      • Or just a much more simple explanation

        @matthew_maurice
        There are those that just have to have the latest iDevice, (and this works for other products, too) and are willing to do whatever it takes, pay whatever it costs, no matter where, to have it [b]now[/b]

        These are the people that make the news. Nobody films a store with the caption "business as usual", but they do film a store with a line coming out of it under the caption "these people will do anything to get said product".

        Those that jumped ship to get the iPhone have it, and there isn't any need to jump back because AT&T, Verizon, who cares: they have their iPhone.

        The shoppers that are left are the ones who like the iPhone and will get it, but also iew it as just something not worth sacraficing anything of importance for.

        And they never make the news. My wife is willing to wait until the iPhone 5 comes out, to her its no big deal to wait, its not so important that she needs it today.
        AllKnowingAllSeeing
    • RE: Why Verizon's so-so iPhone launch makes me smile

      @betelgeuse68 They were not sold out in 2 hours, but they did break Verizon's product pre-sales record in 2 hours.
      The_Omega_Man
  • RE: Why Verizon's so-so iPhone launch makes me smile

    Pretty embarrassing for Apple.

    I'm surprised by this comment:
    [i]Apple store sales people were really surprised at ?how slow? the traffic had been.[/i]
    The last time I went into an Apple store there were about 8 Apple employees just standing around because there were only 2 people in the store, myself and someone else. I quickly walked through it then left, spent maybe a total of 5 minutes in there.
    Loverock Davidson
    • RE: Why Verizon's so-so iPhone launch makes me smile

      @Loverock Davidson

      Kind of like you and your Windows Phone 7 ownership?

      Loverock two weeks ago: "I can't wait to get one"

      ZERO CREDIBILITY LOSER.
      Ron Burgundy
      • Exactly, he can't wait

        But Verizon + no WP7 = No WP7 for LD.
        Michael Alan Goff
    • RE: Why Verizon's so-so iPhone launch makes me smile

      @Loverock Davidson

      What Apple store were you at? I've never seen one that empty.

      Sure you were not in a Microsoft store?
      itguy08
      • He may have been at one of your parties

        @itguy08
        I hear they're pretty empty.
        AllKnowingAllSeeing
      • RE: Why Verizon's so-so iPhone launch makes me smile

        @itguy08 My local verizon store was more full of Red shirts than customers. And there were boxes of free donuts out side for the anticipated lines.
        The_Omega_Man
      • RE: Why Verizon's so-so iPhone launch makes me smile

        @AllKnowingAllSeeing The Apple Stores in both the metropolitan area I live in and the metropolitan area my wife is from are always packed. On iPhone day, don't count on entering the store unless you pre-ordered your device for in-store pickup.
        nix_hed
    • RE: Why Verizon's so-so iPhone launch makes me smile

      @Loverock Davidson

      Pretty embarrassing for Loverock Davidson.

      Loverock went to Apple store, hows that Mac doing for you.
      choyongpil
    • RE: Why Verizon's so-so iPhone launch makes me smile

      @Loverock Davidson

      So let's do the scorecard:

      1. Loverock doesn't own a Windows 7 Phone
      2. Loverock doesn't own a tablet
      3. Loverock goes to Apple stores.....

      I think Loverock owns a Macbook.
      Ron Burgundy
      • RE: Why Verizon's so-so iPhone launch makes me smile

        @Ron Burgundy <br>He must be pestering his mommy, figuring she?ll give him one for his birthday. I doubt he can afford one as a fry cook.
        Rick_K
      • Yes, he owns a Macbook Pro

        1) Verizon doesn't have a WP7 offering yet.
        2) He thinks tablets are a fad.
        3) I don't actually believe he went to an Apple store.
        Michael Alan Goff
      • RE: Why Verizon's so-so iPhone launch makes me smile

        @Ron Burgundy - I feel sorry for @Loverock Davidson..
        samofdetroit
    • RE: Why Verizon's so-so iPhone launch makes me smile

      @Loverock Davidson You must not live anywhere in or near Orange County. The Brea Mall store is packed at all times of the day, and they even open an hour earlier than the rest of the mall (an hour earlier than the time listed on the wall, even) to start signing people in and keeping up with the demand. It's like that literally every day. The Victoria Gardens store is generally packed as well, and it's pretty remote.
      clokverkorange
    • RE: Why Verizon's so-so iPhone launch makes me smile

      @Loverock Davidson Like we are to believe anything you say when it comes to Apple. Not saying they are always this way but every single time I have been in or walked by an Apple store there have been at least 30 customers in the store. Now customer might be a bit strong as you don't know if all were even interested in buying but you never see even near a 4:1 or closer ration of employees to customers like you claim.
      non-biased