Is Apple Hiding Poor Verizon iPhone Sales?

By James Mowery

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Verizon has had much to celebrate as of late, especially with the arrival of the iPhone 4 on their network. As such, Big Red has been quick to announce record-breaking sales with their version of the iPhone. But Apple, more importantly, hasn’t been so quick to bask in Verizon’s success. Doesn’t that seem a bit odd?

Although it wouldn’t be the end of the world, what if the Verizon iPhone hasn’t sold as well as Verizon and Apple would have liked? What if Verizon is putting on a good face for the public and Apple is just keeping their mouth shut in the hopes that things will get better?

I was so certain that the Verizon iPhone would be an undeniable success, but even I am questioning myself.

No One Lined Up

The first hint that people should be somewhat skeptic comes from the fact that people did not line up for the Verizon iPhone. Verizon, unfortunately, wasn’t the recepient of such attention, whereas there were droves of people lining up for the iPhone on AT&T’s network (repeatedly, mind you). Other people have taken notice.

Harry McCracken of Technologizer was shocked about the lack of “iLines” at the Apple store and thinks it might mean something:

I commented on the lack of Verizon-induced insanity to a [Apple] salesguy. “We’re surprised ourselves,” he said.

When Apple releases a new iPhone, there are supposed to be hordes of folks willing to show up at the crack of dawn and wait for hours to get their hands on one. Everybody knows that. But this time, it didn’t happen–across the country, people did show up to buy Verizon iPhones, but not in droves.

Joe Aimonetti of CNET also saw the same lack of interest in the Verizon iPhone on launch day.

It was 2 p.m. PT when I walked into the Apple Store in Pioneer Place in Portland, Ore., yesterday. I expected a line of Verizon customers chomping at the bit to get their hands on the iPhone, impeding my way to the Genius Bar, where I had to get my MacBook Pro repaired. What I found, though, was empty space.

Blame it on the estimated 500,000-plus preorders secured in less than 24 hours online. Or maybe you could blame it on the country’s unusually cold weather. Either way, launch day for Verizon’s iPhone was less than inspiring.

They both make great observations; however the best observation is that Apple hasn’t made any noise at Mobile World Congress (MWC), which is very strange. Remember: just because Verizon possibly had a good day doesn’t necessarily mean that Apple did as well.

Apple Remains Silent

Apple regularly takes advantage of the free press at MWC to announce huge sales of its new products. The company did this with the AT&T’s iPhone 4 and with the iPad — it’s almost like it has become tradition for Apple. They should do this. It’s Apple’s right to inform everyone at MWC to know who is best and who sets the standards.

But that didn’t happen this year. Instead of coming out triumphant and touting the great success that Apple experienced over the past few weeks with the Verizon iPhone, Apple remained quiet about the device throughout MWC. Awkward? You bet.

Maybe Apple is holding out for a reason, though. Maybe they want to wait until they can announce an even higher number of sales (granted, this is very optimistic)? Then again, maybe Apple is, overall, happy with the numbers, but the numbers don’t match those of the AT&T iPhone 4 as of yet (AT&T’s iPhone 4 sold 1.7 million iPhone units in its first weekend). Or maybe the opposite is true: Verizon killed it, and Apple doesn’t want to offend AT&T.

All of the aforementioned are possibilities; however, considering the fact that people didn’t line up as was expected at Apple and Verizon stores, I’m going to have to assume that things are not as good as Apple or Verizon would have hoped. Thus, more questions arise. What if Apple has done poorly in selling the iPhone 4 to people? What if consumers don’t think as badly of AT&T’s network as we had all thought?

It is not the end of the world, of course, but it certainly would be a blow to Apple’s string of successful endeavors as of late.

Ultimately, if it does turn out that the Verizon iPhone did not sell as well as it should have, there might be one thing to point the blame. What is that one thing, you ask? The iPhone 5.

Blame iPhone 5?

The iPhone has been heavily discussed around the Web (as well as here on Maciverse). It seems that every day brings a new rumor about Apple’s latest rendition of the best mobile smart phone in the world. Expectations are incredibly high (which makes me wonder if they can possibly be met). But they should be.

However, what if all of this media attention has confused consumers into thinking that the iPhone 5 is right around the corner and that they should wait?

The iPhone 5 is being rumored to be coming out this year during sometime in the summer. Summer also happens to only be roughly four months from now. This is a long time for someone who doesn’t have a phone (especially who doesn’t have a smart phone) and is interested in upgrading.

When you think about how long consumers have waited for the Verizon iPhone, though, what does four or so months mean in their minds? As compared to the years they have waited already, waiting a few more months is nothing. They can hold out for a superior product, surely.

That could be what is happening right now.

With Patience Comes Great Rewards

As I pointed out recently, it makes sense for those interested in purchasing the iPhone 4 to consider holding off for the iPhone 5. This is what I’m doing as we speak, and I believe everyone else should hold off as well — if this new iPhone is even half of what has been rumored over the past few months, it would automatically be worthy of an upgrade from the iPhone 4.

Nothing is official, of course. While this summer release date has been thrown around throughout the Web quite a bit, there is nothing to say that Apple couldn’t hold off for a Fall release. Even more interesting is the fact that the iPad 2 is expected to be announced shortly. If the iPad 2 ships in two or three months from now, I expect that there will be at the very least a three-month buffer between the two product launches — Apple doesn’t want to cannibalize their own products.

If the summer time is when the iPhone 5 will be released, those who held out for the better product will surely be rewarded. That, or at least they will be able to mock all of those who were impatient and purchased the Verizon iPhone.

About James Mowery
James Mowery is a passionate technology journalist, entrepreneur, and Apple enthusiast who has written for various top-tier publications like Mashable, Techi, and CMSWire. Follow him on Twitter: @JMowery.

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