March 01, 2011, 10:59 AM — Verizon's iPhone 4 sales may be less than what the wireless carrier and Apple expected, but they're more than what people who suspected sales were disappointing thought.
Let's put some numbers on this. The Street.com reports that Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead "told media outlets this weekend that 60% of the company's iPhone sales were preorders." (He means as a percentage of first-week sales.)
Taking analyst estimates that 600,000 Verizon iPhones were pre-ordered early last month, The Street's Scott Moritz concludes that more than 1 million Verizon iPhones were sold through the first week.
In contrast, Moritz writes, AT&T sold 1.7 million iPhone 4s last year. This makes the Verizon iPhone sales even more impressive for two reasons: 1) The iPhone 4 was new when AT&T began selling it; by the time it went on sale in Verizon stores last month, it wasn't, and 2) The iPhone 5 is around the corner. This undoubtedly kept down Verizon iPhone 4 sales.
The large number of preorders also helps explain the inexplicable lack of long lines and frenzied customers for a major Apple product debut when Verizon began selling the iPhone on Feb. 10. At least one hard-working blogger lashed out at Apple fanboys for not turning out in dutiful droves, thus failing to follow the traditional media narrative.
They'll get another chance next summer, when Verizon and AT&T begin selling the iPhone 5. That should be some kind of marketing war.
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.