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.
I ran into an old colleague, a concierge at the Apple Store, on my way in, and asked how the launch was going. "One," he said, "We had one customer waiting this morning."
Inside the store, a plethora of specialists waited with open arms, many bored with the day's lack of excitement. Several had been asked to arrive early for their shift to help prepare the store for what Apple must have expected would be a bigger day. One specialist was asked to come in on her birthday.
Management even provided a food cart filled with snacks to keep the staff's energy up, a common practice for big launch days.
As I sat at the Genius Bar waiting for the diagnosis on my MacBook Pro, I stared at the wall of unsold Verizon iPhones stacked behind the Geniuses. A few other people at the bar didn't even realize the Verizon iPhone was available.
Apparently, my experience in Portland was not unique. AppleInsider quotes Brian White of Ticonderoga Securities:
"Although Manhattan clearly does not represent all of America, we believe this provides general color on demand trends," White said. "The lack of positive surprise on day one could provide an excuse for the stock to take a breather after a strong run after the past several weeks[;] however, we remain aggressive buyers of Apple on any weakness as we believe the company's portfolio has never been better positioned to capitalize on consumer trends."
Despite the less than stellar attendance at Apple Stores, many analysts believe Verizon will be selling over 10 million iPhones this year. Of course, this year also includes the expected release of the iPhone 5 this summer, likely to land on Verizon and AT&T simultaneously, syncing Apple's release schedule for both carriers.
Given reports of the lackluster launch, it will be interesting to see official numbers of Verizon iPhone sales from Apple and how that affects stock prices.
Did you make it to an Apple Store on launch day? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comments!