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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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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
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.

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