An early estimate by Oppenheimer analyst Yair Reiner suggests Apple may have sold as many as 1.5 million iPhone 4s on just its first day of sales. Assuming that Apple sold about 750,000 phones in the US, including 600,000 pre-orders, 100,000 walk-in purchases, and 50,000 Best Buy units, he believes that the number roughly doubled when including international sales in the few countries that also had the iPhone 4 in its first-wave launch
It was funny standing in line yesterday there was a huge consensus with the people I was standing next to (I was not in agreement) that Apple was purposely making the sales process slow so that they could create an illusion of demand. This of course I knew to be absurd, but people kept pointing out that it would be great free advertising as the news outlets were sure to be covering the lines. While I can’t disagree that any PR is good PR, I think Apple was doing the best job they could do yesterday.
For starters Apple had tons of employees on hand, along with AT&T reps to solve any AT&T related problems. They had food/water/coffee free for all people in line. The slow down was the activation process. When the original iPhone launched they verified you could get the upgrade price and sold you the phone. You went home and activated (this of course caused AT&T servers to crash). This time around you bought the phone (after they checked your eligibility) and then you had them open it, plug it into a Mac and activate it. This is what was taking so damn long (about 2 minutes to do this).
So no this was not an evil ploy. If you still don’t buy it – think of it this way: If Apple was able to sell 1.5 million phones on day one, and had kept the line waits to an hour or less – imagine how much better that would be for Apple and AT&T from a PR stand point. Now do you get why it is in everyones best interests to keep lines short?