Hello, can you hear me now?

July 26, 2007

The only other PR event that even compares to the iPhone circus was Harry Potter. But unlike iPhone, Potter delivered on its hype, selling 8.3 million books on the first day.

In terms of Apple’s numbers which were released yesterday afternoon. Apple said that it had “shipped” 270,000 iPhones by the end of the quarter.

Yet only 146,000 were activated by AT&T. Assuming that some 10 or 15 percent of the iPhones sold weren’t activated (for some reason or another), that would make actual sales under 175,000 for the two day period.

Look at the situation from Apple’s point of view. After six months of incredible publicity (more than for any other product in history), what would Apple like to see happen when the product finally went on sale?

I think they would like to have seen 90 percent or more of the Apple and AT&T stores sold out of iPhones. To make that happen, they would have had to ship fewer iPhones than they expected to sell.

Since Apple shipped 270,000 iPhones, they obviously expected to sell well over 300,000 units. (Pundits predicted 400,000, 500,000, even 800,000 units in the two-day period.)

Why restrict deliveries in the first place? Apple wouldn’t have wanted to offend its loyal fans. After all, if a store doesn’t sell out on the first day, all those people who waited in line for hours are going to feel cheated.

In fact, anyone that waited in line for days must feel a little silly today. There was obviously no rush and no shortage of the devices.

Is the iPhone off to a great start? I don’t think so. Furthermore, I expect to see a gradual weakening of iPhone sales in the months ahead. The bad PR surrounding these early sales figures is obviously damaging.

Convergence captures the imagination and generates hype, there is no doubt about that. But divergence brings home the bacon. That is the message I hope to get out loud and clear.