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
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.