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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 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).


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