Verizon iPhone Sales Aren't Ringing Up

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Initial sales of the Verizon iPhone 4 are proving weaker than expected, according to a new report citing unnamed sources at Apple. Gadget-focused blog BGR said in a Wednesday post that first-week Verizon iPhones "are performing a little under what Apple and Verizon anticipated" after recording an estimated 550,000 pre-order sales online before the device hit stores Feb. 10.

To back up its claim, BGR showed unit sales data from five Apple Stores combined ("including two very, very prominent" locations) during the Verizon iPhones first five days on the market. On the first day, for instance, 909 Verizon iPhones were sold, compared to 539 AT&T versions of the device.

The next day, 916 Verizon iPhones were sold, and 680 from AT&T. On Monday, the five Apple stores sold 711 Verizon iPhones and 618 for AT&T's network. Keep in mind that the Verizon iPhone has been available since last Thursday at Apple's more than 230 stores and Verizon's more than 2,000 retail outlets nationwide.

Neither Verizon or Apple has yet disclosed sales figures for the handset. But first-day pre-orders on Feb. 3 for existing Verizon subscribers sold out quickly, and the carrier said the iPhone 4 broke first-day sales records. Verizon did not respond to a media inquiry Wednesday before deadline.

The nation's largest carrier said in a Feb. 10 release that "customers across the U.S. braved inclement weather, long lines or both at stores across the country to be among the first to purchase an iPhone 4 on the Verizon Wireless network."

However, various reports that day noted that lines were much shorter than during last summer's release of the iPhone 4 from AT&T. CNNMoney, for example, reported that only eight people were on line at the flagship Apple Store on Fifth Avenue in New York at 6:45 a.m. on the first day the Verizon iPhone went on sale.

Among the reasons the handset may have had a weaker debut is that the iPhone 5 is expected to come out this summer, prompting potential buyers to hold out for the upgraded model in four or five months. As it stands, someone who buys the iPhone 4 from Verizon now would have to break their contract and pay the $350 early-termination fee to get the next-generation iPhone this summer.

Furthermore, existing Verizon customers with Android or other phones and AT&T iPhone owners who want to switch may be waiting until their current contracts expire. In that vein, BGR said that among Verizon iPhone buyers so far, 30% were Android users, 25% were BlackBerry owners, and 14% were AT&T iPhone owners.

A survey by research firm ChangeWave released in January found 26% of AT&T iPhone customers planned to switch to Verizon. Overall, Wall Street analysts expect Verizon to sell 11 million iPhones this year.

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