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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 cmdrdredd on 2/12/2011 9:34:15 AM , Rating: 2
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.

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