Sub-zero temps don’t cool Verizon iPhone seekers

Feb 10, 2011
Finance

It was June 29, 2007. A muggy day in Chicago. It was my wedding anniversary. It was also the beginning of iPhone mania. I was a Chicago Sun-Times tech reporter covering the launch of the iPhone in 2007 in downtown Chicago. Lines stretched from the Apple (AAPL) store on Michigan Avenue around the corner for […]

It was June 29, 2007. A muggy day in Chicago.

It was my wedding anniversary. It was also the beginning of iPhone mania.

I was a Chicago Sun-Times tech reporter covering the launch of the iPhone in 2007 in downtown Chicago. Lines stretched from the Apple (AAPL) store on Michigan Avenue around the corner for another block. There were similar lines along State Street in front of the AT&T (T) store.

The same thing happened across the country.

Fade from June 2007 to Feb. 10, 2011.

Lines—albeit much shorter ones—formed in front of Verizon (VZ) stores as iPhone fans wait their turn to buy the smartphone. IPhones on Verizon also are being sold at Apple stores, WalMart (WMT), Best Buy (BBY) and online.

One difference from 2007—much of the country is in the deep freeze. It’s minus-one in my backyard—according to a sensor on my heating system. And it’s probably a gazillion degrees lower due to wind chill.

But the bone-chilling weather isn’t stopping people from getting on the iPhone bandwagon.

Up I-294 in Milwaukee, Brendan Conway at WISN-TV 12 is reporting that “cold weather not expected to cool (iPhone) excitement.” Verizon helped out letting some customers wait indoors—though what self-respecting cheesehead would do that when temperatures were a comfy minus -6.

“We’re going to provide some hot chocolate, some coffee, some hand-warmers. We’re going to try to move it as fast as we can because we know it’s going to be cold out,” said Tyler Goff, manager at the Verizon store at Bayshore Mall.

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The media reported plenty on poor reception from AT&T in San Francisco and New York. But people in flyover Dakotas, Montana, Nebraska and Wyoming also have been bitching about poor reception on AT&T.

Over in Moorhead, N.D. where the mercury dipped down to minus-14, consumers are psyched to get iPhones. Katie Elenberger spent her first day of maternity leave waiting for FedEx to deliver her iPhone: “I’ve been laying on the couch by my front door all day waiting for the FedEx truck,” she told Associated Press. “Getting the iPhone is the highlight of my day.”

Down in the Sunshine State, where temperatures were a more civilized 65, people wanted a piece of the VZ iPhone. Marcia Caldwell started the line in front of the Winter Garden Verizon outlet 15 hours before the store opened. She told the Orlando Sentinel the last time she waited in line like this was when she was in college buying tickets to see The Boss.

Caldwell is cancelling her current AT&T contract to move on to Verizon.She’s not alone.

Sam Oliver notes in Apple Insider: “Despite the fact that the new Verizon iPhone 4 is essentially the same as the model that went on sale 8 months ago with rival carrier AT&T, Apple is still predicted to top a million sales of the highly anticipated handset in the first week.”

RBC Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky estimates that the iPhone 4 for VZ’s CDMA network will sell out this week, easily reaching one million units sold.

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Abramsky figures that as many as 4 million iPhones will be sold in the quarter ending March 31.

Not shabby, but this lags behind AT&T’s experience in introducing the then novel smartphone in 2007. AT&T reported 5 million activations in its first quarter.

Abramsky’s conservative estimate for Verizon for the year? Nine to 10 million.

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Howard Wolinsky

Howard Wolinsky is a Chicago freelance writer specializing in health and tech topics. He covered those beats for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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