You've got to really want something if you stay up until 3 a.m. (or midnight on the West Coast) to put in an early order. But enough aspiring iPhone 4 owners did on Thursday that Verizon in just two hours set a record for first-day sales, the wireless company said Friday. (Also see: Some advice Apple and Verizon don't want you to hear) Verizon allowed existing customers to pre-order the Apple smartphone ahead of its availability to the general public on Feb. 10. The company ceased taking online orders shortly after 8 p.m. Thursday. “This was an exciting day,” said Dan Mead, president and chief executive officer for Verizon Wireless. Probably not so much for AT&T, which until now was the only U.S. supplier of iPhones and is expected to lose a large number of current subscribers -- probably several millions -- to Verizon. “In just our first two hours, we had already sold more phones than any first day launch in our history," Mead said. "And, when you consider these initial orders were placed between the hours of 3 a.m. and 5 a.m., it is an incredible success story.” Were these Verizon customers who stayed up late to place orders classic Apple fanboys who own and swear by every device the company ever made? Or just regular people caught up in the excitement? I'm guessing it was mostly the former. When the general market launch comes on Feb. 10, Verizon will open its more than 2,000 retail stores at 7 a.m. Get those sleeping bags ready! Also, Verizon would be wise to outfit its stores with fainting couches. (I'd like to see some early-bird customers rush into a Verizon store at 7 a.m. and breathlessly ask to see an Android or BlackBerry. You know, just for laughs.) The iPhone 4 also will be available for sale at all Apple store locations, Best Buy, some Wal-Marts at the Apple and Verizon websites.
Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.