Apple had a great week last week when it launched the iPhone 4 to much fanfare. 1.7 million units reportedly flew out the door in the first three days alone setting sales records. People waited in long lines; reportedly longer lines than for the iPad debut or the iPhone 3G last year, but the glow was only momentary.
The initial good sales news was quickly followed by reports of supply issues, then came the antenna news--that you could get lousy reception if you didn't hold it correctly. Just the other day came rumors of a possible Verizon iPhone at the beginning of next year, which could mean some potential customers will hold off until then (assuming it's true, which isn't clear).
It got me thinking that when you look at all of these factors, could this eventually have an affect on sales after that initial burst last week?
Waiting Leaves Time For Thinking Instead of Buying
One thing Apple should absolutely be aware of is that they need to strike while the market is hot. The company worked extremely hard to rev up demand, and people got very excited coming out the Keynote address by Steve Jobs at WWDC earlier this month. The fact they sold 1.5 million units on the first day illustrates this, but what about those who didn't get one, but wanted one, and are hearing all these negatives now? Will Apple come to regret the supply issues that gave people time to think about it? What about people who bought in spite of AT&T and not because of it (see my recent post Apple should cut ties with AT&T). These folks are just sitting around and the negatives are starting to drum very loudly. If a Verizon iPhone is on the way, will millions wait for it (and what if it's not)?
Apple Critics Surface Fast
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes wrote a piece on ZDNet called iPhone 4...Apple's own Vista moment in history. in which he suggested that Apple was getting off fairly easily considering the problems it's reportedly been having with its antenna design. He suggests that Apple went completely for form over practicality and function. He writes:
"Apple needs to grasp the fact that it now not only sells a mass-market handset, but it’s selling it to a massive market, and these people aren’t necessarily Apple fanboys or zealots. These people buy a product because they believe that it is the best in its class. Preaching to people about how to hold their handsets, selling $30 strips of rubber, or spewing technical specs on the glass used is not good enough. People want a product that they can trust, and that has had the kinks worked out before going to market."
Wow, that's pretty harsh, but it's not entirely unfair either. Apple set its own standards and now it has to live with them.
It Doesn't Stop There
Engadget even reports that Apple is hiring antenna engineers adding fuel to the growing fire of doubt and begging the obvious question. Why didn't they hire one during the design phase and not post-release?
Meanwhile, Verizon is taking advantage by making fun of the antenna problem in a new full page NYT ad for the upcoming Droid X.
All of this negative news could certainly take the bloom off the iPhone rose and affect its previously untouchable cool factor. Only time will tell, however if this was just a few days of glory, followed by the great sales fall-off, or if Apple magic could overcome this and continue to sell iPhones in ridiculous numbers in spite of the parade of bad news.