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Only short lines formed this time around for the iPhone's launch on Verizon. Apple and Verizon were clearing expecting much bigger crowds.  (Source: Reuters/Mike Segar)

Apple's Steve Jobs may not be as far removed from the company as thought. Despite being on medical leave he is reportedly holding multiple meetings and even visited Cupertino campus, preparing for the upcoming iPhone 5 and iPad 2 launches.  (Source: European Pressphoto Agency)
For all the hype AT&T's iPhone 4 launch was far bigger

It was to be the biggest phone launch of the year.  At long last the much beloved iPhone was launching on "America's most reliable network", Verizon Wireless.  The carrier clearly expected an epic turnout, so it erected metal barricades in front of its city stores like in New York and San Francisco.  It also beefed up its staff for launch day (Thursday).

But ahead of the 7 a.m. opening of the store on Thursday only a small contingent of Apple fans gathered outside the building.  In New York City at 6:30 a.m. lines tended to have only 10 to 40 people.  One might suspect the cold winter weather might play a role, but consider that stores in San Francisco, which is enjoying far nicer weather, only saw 20 people.

Through the day a moderate stream of customers came in to pick up their pre-ordered iPhone.  Pre-orders were open two days -- on Feb. 3 for existing customers and on Feb. 9 for the general public.

Intriguingly, despite supposedly being "superior" to AT&T in terms of service quality, the turnout at Verizon seemed quite anemic to the hordes of people that camped outside Apple and AT&T stores last July.

Even Verizon Wireless spokesperson Brenda Raney admits that her company was a little surprised by the low turnout.  While she describes the sales as "brisk and steady" she comments to Reuters, "We prepared for more. When you have people over for dinner, don't you prepare for more?"

It's hard to determine what exactly was the cause of poor response.  Perhaps it's a sign that Apple is losing more momentum to Android.  Or perhaps it's a sign that not as many AT&T customers are interested in switching as predicted.  Regardless, while Apple and Verizon Wireless would never admit it, the launch clearly was a disappointment to their high expectations.

In other related news, Apple founder and chief executive Steve Jobs is now back to work -- from home.  According to The Wall Street Journal, sources at Apple say that while Mr. Jobs' health problems forced him to take a medical leave and largely confined him to home, he's been able to hold regular meetings via teleconference.  And he was even spotted visiting Apple's Cupertino campus on one day.

While Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook is currently guiding the company in an official capacity, Jobs is reportedly continuing to guide the company in an unofficial capacity.  He reportedly is especially focused on executing a successful launch of the iPad 2 sometime in the next few months, and the iPhone 5, which is expected to launch this summer.  Both devices will be offered on both of America's largest carriers -- AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless.

An Apple spokesperson commenting to The Wall Street Journal states, "Steve is the CEO of Apple and during his medical leave he'll continue to be involved in major strategic decisions."

Medical experts consulted by the WSJ say that Jobs' increasingly gaunt appearance in recent months and illness is likely a sign either that his cancer has reoccurred or that he's experiencing complications with his organ transplant.  Either way, the hard-driving general isn't able to full step away from his duties at the company; that much is clear.



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not a surprise
By kleinma on 2/11/2011 9:14:07 AM , Rating: 5
There were so many things wrong with this launch it doesn't surprise me at all.

1) iPhone 4 is in the middle of its life cycle and the news made sure to let people know that. Lots of people are holding off for iPhone 5.

2) Lots of Verizon customers have been buying up Android sets because Verizon offers several quality units (incredible, droidx, droid2, etc..)

3) Verizon is in the middle of an LTE (4g if you want to call it that) rollout and their 3G speeds just aren't that great. People may be waiting for a 4g branded iPhone.

4) the iPhone just isn't all that great. It is nice, but it isn't the only player in the market like it was a little while back, and competition is gaining steam. As apple tries to control more and take a larger piece of the pie away from developers, you could see backlash from the dev community and have them in stronger support of other platforms like android and Win7 phone.




RE: not a surprise
By mcnabney on 2/11/2011 9:24:55 AM , Rating: 5
The only people that would get an iPhone at a store on launch day are port-in customers since the existing Verizon customers could order a week earlier.

Despite a lot of people WANTING to switch from the poor performing AT&T, a typical customer might have four lines and the cost of breaking all of those contracts is VERY high. Verizon will probably get them, but not 6-8 months after customers signed a bunch of two year contracts. The shift away from AT&T is going to take almost two years.

For example, my aunt and uncle have a 3GS and 4 and want to go back to Verizon. If they left NOW, they would break two contracts - one with five months and one with seventeen months on it. That is a lot of money, however, they will likely break one of them and move both lines when iPhone5 launches.


RE: not a surprise
By vol7ron on 2/11/2011 1:59:57 PM , Rating: 2
Yes and no. There will be continual switch-overs, but the majority will be up long before 2 years. Keep in mind, that customers get their phones at different times of the year.

All customers didn't lock in their contract at the same time. That means peoples contracts are up on a daily basis. This launch included anyone who was with Verizon looking to get the iPhone, anyone whose contract was up from any carrier ( not just AT&T ) that was looking to get the Vzn iPhone, and anyone from any carrier that was looking to break their contract for the Vzn iPhone.

It was a failed launch for many reasons, which most of us have already stated in comments to this article as well as others; many of us have already blogged about it. I'm curious if the iP5 will be available on Vzn in June - that doesn't make much sense to me, but maybe.

I don't own one, but Droid or WP7 will eventually be the reigning champ - I'd like to see Ubunutu Mobile heh. If MS can offer free apps (Office, etc) that interact and sync wirelessly with Outlook, xbox, and their home PCs - they could have the ultimate marketing strategy for their product.


RE: not a surprise
By Alexstarfire on 2/11/2011 2:36:11 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think he was saying that at exactly the two year mark everyone was going to switch all of a sudden, but at that exact mark there might likely be a bigger surge since a LOT of people got phones on launch day. I think he's just saying that since contracts are typically two years we won't know how many really wanted to switch until after that date.


RE: not a surprise
By vol7ron on 2/12/2011 12:46:38 PM , Rating: 2
I got that, but I wanted to say that it wasn't enough reason to address the minimal sales lines, that there are lots of people between the announcement of the Vzn iPhone and now that would have easily made this a media fiasco.

I'm more curious about how the lines this weekend (today) compared to launch day. There could have been postponed interest, given work schedules and weather conditions and the fact that the phone isn't really new compared to AT&T version (especially since Droid devices have better hardware).


RE: not a surprise
By chiadog on 2/11/2011 8:58:09 PM , Rating: 2
Very true @ contract. I think the fanatical kind of customer who are willing to wait in long lines for Apple products have long switched to AT&T (willingly or begrudgingly).


RE: not a surprise
By atlmann10 on 2/14/2011 1:34:25 AM , Rating: 2
This is actually kind of funny if you think about it (Maybe not if your on At&t or Verizon's board right now, but to everyone else), iPhone customers to a great percentage (existing ones) have a contract that started from June 14th to probably the middle of July.

I am not saying all here I am saying a large percentage. Then this was advertised as well as know to any long term user, Apple intro's new iPhone's for 3 versions now at there June conference. On top of that if you were with Verizon, and had to have an iPhone you left and went to At&t. If you wanted a smart phone, but were not directly set on an iPhone particularly they had those.

The people that had to have a Verizon iPhone and were customers upgraded a week earlier. The people at At&t that have an iPhone and hate At&t also generally know there will be an iPhone 5 on both networks on June 14th. That is 4 months to the day from today, plus you save money not busting your contract (most likely enough to afford it when the new one comes out).

What Verizon got for new customers are those that had to have it and on there network NOW. Those users will also most likely upgrade when the new one's drop in June even though they just upgraded in the last two weeks. So it actually seems to me on those customers Verizon gets double money, and shortens there time to profitability on the specific product.


RE: not a surprise
By Da W on 2/11/2011 9:57:42 AM , Rating: 4
And palm pre3 returns, RIM is not dead, it's a 5 horses race. Iphone is still stuck with an icon grid.


RE: not a surprise
By Mitch101 on 2/11/2011 1:11:24 PM , Rating: 3
BLACKBERRY/RIM
As much as I loved Rim they are dying off. Users dont want them any more they want droids and iphones. In the next year we should see what Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 will add since they run a lot of the mail servers out there expect some embedded goodness.

I think rim keeps throwing devices out and hoping one sticks but they need a total redesign to get back into the game.

Storm 1 & 2 has been nothing but a failure it poor battery life and is plagued with software compatibility issues. Many corp apps just dont work on it.

Curve has tons of bugs if I get another call about someones e-mail disappearing after a SMS message im going to scream like a girl. That will happen by the end of today. No one likes to pull the battery and wait 15 mins for bootup to make their e-mail visible again. Small screens are yesterday. Lots of apps again wont run on the curve 3. The occasional lost meeting or late meeting arrival on the device.

Bold - meh nothing special. Again small screen slow device.

Lousy low res camera's, requires additional hardware to work with e-mail systems, and blackberry support has adopted the deny, delay, acknowledge, repair troubleshooting round about. Not to mention the extremely obscure what the updated software fixes fix. Fixes calendar issue - Nice description rim you mean fixes the Missing outlook calendar issue that lasted 5 software versions you wouldn't acknowledge?

The only thing keeping rim alive is its corporate security but that's not going to last forever.


RE: not a surprise
By Lord 666 on 2/11/2011 3:42:00 PM , Rating: 2
The Bold is a no-nonsense BB and an overall decent device. However, slap BB OS6 (VZW build) on there and it goes down the crapper. Battery life is much shorter, sluggish performance, hit or miss web browsing, and annoying "features" such as side menu scrolling that cannot be turned off. Before I roll back to OS 5, hoping BB/VZW release minor fixes.

Agreed about Curve, thats just a consumer device, but even most normal users I know have Bolds.


RE: not a surprise
By superPC on 2/11/2011 11:52:23 AM , Rating: 4
or maybe we're close to hitting the saturation point of iphone user.


RE: not a surprise
By HrilL on 2/11/2011 12:42:49 PM , Rating: 2
I'd have to agree. I'm in a fairly well off area of the country lot of college kids that seem to come from wealthy families. Retirees and rich tourist. When I go downtown to bars and what not everyone has either and iPhone or an Android and RIM is a smaller but still noticeable 3rd place. You'll almost never see people with feature phones. Last time I was one was this girl I know who literally loses a phone once or twice a month and her parents wouldn't keep buying her new iPhones. She went through 4 before they stopped getting her new ones.


RE: not a surprise
By vol7ron on 2/11/2011 2:07:08 PM , Rating: 3
I might go back, though. The $100/mo isn't as worth it as I thought it would be. One reason I got it was to trade stocks whenever, wherever. $1200/yr to do that is expensive, when I'm at my computer most of the time anyhow. It's not that $1200 isn't affordable, but I could put that cash towards something else - it's the opportunity cost that's high.

I think the service is going to be my major deterrent in the future.


RE: not a surprise
By vol7ron on 2/11/2011 2:08:16 PM , Rating: 2
What I mean by that, is I'd rather just pay for an iPod touch that has almost all the same features than a phone that I barely use for the phone.


RE: not a surprise
By bigdawg1988 on 2/12/2011 5:22:17 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe you're just not looking (probably surfing on your darn smartphone, young whippersnapper). Only 20% of shipments were for smartphones in 2010(see source below).
Heck, I switched from a smartphone to a feature phone to avoid at&t charges. I just don't spend that much time walking around on the internet. :)
Feature phones just don't get any press coverage. Who cares about a phone that makes calls? They're getting hard as heck to find, and nearly impossible to find a site that reviews them. Poor dumb little feature phones....

http://www.visionmobile.com/blog/2010/10/smart-fea...


RE: not a surprise
By callmeroy on 2/11/2011 3:22:43 PM , Rating: 2
Kleinma hit the nail on the head.

Especially the timing issue, which was just flat out stupid planning on Verizon's part.

Verizon would have been much better served to have arrange for their Iphone debut to co-incide with the iPhone 5 launch, presumably this summer.


RE: not a surprise
By callmeroy on 2/11/2011 3:23:16 PM , Rating: 2
Kleinma hit the nail on the head.

Especially the timing issue, which was just flat out stupid planning on Verizon's part.

Verizon would have been much better served to have arrange for their Iphone debut to co-incide with the iPhone 5 launch, presumably this summer.


RE: not a surprise
By cmdrdredd on 2/12/2011 9:34:15 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
1) iPhone 4 is in the middle of its life cycle and the news made sure to let people know that. Lots of people are holding off for iPhone 5. 2) Lots of Verizon customers have been buying up Android sets because Verizon offers several quality units (incredible, droidx, droid2, etc..) 3) Verizon is in the middle of an LTE (4g if you want to call it that) rollout and their 3G speeds just aren't that great. People may be waiting for a 4g branded iPhone. 4) the iPhone just isn't all that great. It is nice, but it isn't the only player in the market like it was a little while back, and competition is gaining steam. As apple tries to control more and take a larger piece of the pie away from developers, you could see backlash from the dev community and have them in stronger support of other platforms like android and Win7 phone.


1) I think since Apple has been so predictable with it's life cycle on iphone products there's a lot of people who are waiting for the next one. That did cause a problem, I agree.

2) I think the Android market is over saturated on Verizon and there's too many iPhone like phones that have been available for a long time now. Customers won't pony up $500 for a phone unsubsidized.

3) I think some customers want a 4G iPhone. Will they get it? It's possible...The 3G speeds on Verizon are fine. Actually from my testing it's better than AT&T and you can get a decent signal. However, my area is not the whole country so I don't know if everyone's experience is as good as mine with data. I also think that so many people are locked into contract on AT&T that they don't want to switch. Especially when they are offering new plans to keep customers on their network.

4) Part of what you said is right, part I don't agree with. The closed OS does pose a problem for developers with a lot of red tape and hoops to jump through to get an approved app. It's good for the user because they can have apps that are more or less guaranteed to work at the expense of certain types of apps not being available. The competition is fierce these days, the iPhone is not the only touchscreen phone, not the only one who can do music and video with a good screen, not the only one with angry birds etc. I do think that if someone was interested in media (audio and video) the iTunes tie in is unbeatable. I would not say the iPhone isn't all that great. Antenna problems aside I rate it as the best smartphone currently out there when you take into account the features and software. iTunes is still the best for digital music.


“We do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone.” -- Steve Jobs














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