Verizon iPhone, Day One: Less Madness Than ExpectedVerizon Wireless got a small taste of Apple iPhone madness Thursday when it opened its doors for the first time to customers revved up to purchase the long-awaited smartphone to run on the carrier's network. Verizon (VZ) stores from Orlando, Fla., to Santa Maria, Calif., experienced the die-hard spirit of Apple (AAPL) fans as some customers camped out overnight and formed lines in the early morning hours before the stores opened at 7 a.m.

But for some stores, that madness was short-lived. Within an hour after opening its doors, the sole Verizon Wireless store in Santa Maria had worked through its line of roughly 40 people. Although the line, which began forming before 2 a.m., was far longer than the store had seen for other smartphone launches over the years, it wasn't the overwhelming crush that was anticipated. Store managers had called issued an "all hands on deck" call to employees. But by 8 a.m., a number of sales representatives were standing around without customers.

Verizon's desire to be prepared for a crushing wave of customers was understandable. Prior to today, Verizon customers had been locked out of purchasing the popular smartphone for more than three years thanks to Apple's exclusive U.S. contract with AT&T (T).

But the lighter crowds in stores may not have been due to lower interest in the Verizon iPhone than expected. Instead, the relatively quiet morning may have been due, in part, to the ability of existing Verizon customers to pre-order their iPhones starting last week, when the allotted number for online sale sold out in roughly 17 hours.

Three Years of Patient Waiting

Additional pressure may have been taken off Thursday's launch thanks to the ability of new customers to ring up their orders in stores a day early. Though new Verizon customers could have purchased their iPhones Wednesday, they wouldn't have enjoyed the instant gratification of walking out of the store immediately with the devices. Those customers will have to wait for the mailman to deliver their phones.

That craving to have the device in hand was what drove David Copado of Santa Maria, Calif., to arrive at 5:15 a.m. and stand in line. Copado, who was 10th in line, was the first to emerge from the store Thursday morning as a Verizon iPhone 4 owner.

"I could have ordered online last night, but then I'd have to wait for the mail to get here," says Copado. "I tried to pre-order last week, but I didn't expect them to sell out so fast."

Those who pre-ordered last week began receiving their phones in the mail ahead of Thursday's formal launch.

Copado has patiently waited to get an iPhone since they debuted in 2007 on AT&T, but was unwilling to switch to what he considered an inferior carrier with a shoddy reputation for customer service, he said. Copado he has a BlackBerry Tour that is no longer on a two-year contract.

Unlimited Data Plan Will Be a Big Draw

Ray Leon of Guadalupe, Calif., dumped AT&T three weeks ago. He had just come off a two-year contract with T-Mobile (DTEGY) and switched to AT&T to snag an iPhone, he said. But after three weeks, he was bumping up against his data plan's limits and knew he would have trouble staying within them on a monthly basis. Now, he's piggybacking on his dad's Verizon plan to get an iPhone 4 under the carrier's unlimited data plan.

Wall Street analysts have previously pointed to Verizon's unlimited data plan as a key weapon in its arsenal as it enters this stage of its competition with archrival AT&T.

Tayler Jacobsen, a Santa Ynez, Calif., resident is a serial cell phone jumper, the type who changes hardware every six months. She said has no qualms about adding new lines to her account to get the latest smartphone.

The young woman's past three phones were Motorola Mobility's (MMI) Droids, her last a Droid X which ended up with a smashed screen. But despite her history with Android OS devices, she was eager to get her hands on the iPhone, and said she plans to be an Apple customer going forward on the Verizon network.

Charles Signorelli of Lompoc, Calif., was buying his wife an iPhone 4 for Valentine's Day, since her old "non-smart" cell phone was broken. "I could have ordered online, but it wouldn't get here by Valentine's Day," Signorelli said.

Gentlemen, are you listening? The way to a woman's heart is now through the Verizon store.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Investing in Real Estate

Learn the basics of investing in real estate.

View Course »

Behavioral Finance

Why do investors make the decisions that they do?

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:

Verizon is NOT a reputable company to deal with in any sense or way. They are scammers, to put it mildly.

February 11 2011 at 5:03 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

The ultimate "looser" phone from the ultimate looser company Apple. (yawn) - NEXT.

February 11 2011 at 12:25 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Why would anyone with a brain buy a 3G iPhone when there will likely be a 4G version in a few months? I was in a Best Buy today and they had 160 VZ iPhones and had sold 12 by mid-afternoon. One person waited in "line" for the store to open 2 hours early. Pretty funny. They had all these ropes to guide the massive throngs of people and there was nobody in the whole mobile department.

February 10 2011 at 11:32 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to CG's comment

Well with the 3G iPhone you can jailbreak it and get much more apps, data and free cool stuff. I dont think the 4G can be jailbroken, but i may be wrong but thats the only explanation for buying the 3G. That and the price for a 3G

February 10 2011 at 11:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Actually, I'd love to have an I-Phone, but with Verizon 4G service coming to my neck of the woods this year, what the heck do I want with a 3G I-Phone?

February 10 2011 at 8:58 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Verizon and Apple waited too long. Who cares about a 6 month old phone? Android is great and does not force you to be a slave to I-tunes.

February 10 2011 at 8:35 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

there is a core group of Apple fanatics (about 5,000,000) that will buy anything new that Steve Jobs puts on the market every 6 months. The latest thing that these "people" are drooling for is to throw out their iPad from a few months ago to replace it with the new iPad for $700 because it has a revelutionary beveled edge (and nothing else), and that's all they need for justification! They account for the initial huge sales numbers immediatly after release. And these same people will camp out for days when the iPhone 5 arrives this summer to throw out their iPhone 4!!! Anybody who camps out for an electronic device that they can get a couple of days later without camping out or waiting in line is not playing with a full deck!!!

February 10 2011 at 7:59 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Mr Bretz

Can you imagine a phone causing such a furor? We have misplaced priorities.

February 10 2011 at 7:14 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

I pre-ordered on line from Verizon on the 3rd and got my phone on Monday, Feb 7th by fedex way ahead of the launch date. Only smooth sailing so far...

February 10 2011 at 5:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Looks like Mr. Jobs screwed himself by giving AT&T such a long exclusivity to the iphone while android was eating away at what would have been his market share. Also if the next iphone is coming out in June/ July with a small change, probably like a dual flash, and act like it is revolutionary because it is on his phone is really idiotic.

February 10 2011 at 3:35 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

All u new iphone users on Verizon network, try talking on ur iphone and replying to a text msg/surfing the web at the same time. THats right it can't be done. I will stick to AT&T where I will have fun multi-tasking.

February 10 2011 at 2:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to mrjames07's comment