Thirty-year-old Josh Robinson is the quintessential iPhone fanatic.
Standing in line Friday morning in front of the Apple store in Boulder, Colo., Robinson was waiting to buy none other than the iPhone 4S, Apples latest iteration of the popular mobile gadget that is part phone, part computer.
Every launch Im standing in line,” Robinson said.
He means that literally, having purchased every version of the iPhone since Apple launched the device in 2007. Robinson already has an iPhone 4, which he plans to sell on Craigslist for between $150 and $200.
The truck driver from Denver said he likes the GPS functionality of the iPhone and uses the Facebook app, but his attraction to the device appears to be something of an obsession.
I am on it every 15 minutes checking everything Facebook, email, text messages, Internet. It does everything.”
That kind of unsolicited endorsement of one of the worlds most revered smartphones helps to explain why Apple has sold 129 million iPhones since 2007 and could sell millions of iPhones over the weekend around the world.
Analysts were speculating for months that Apple would debut an entirely next-generation iPhone 5. The iPhone 4S announcement earlier this month may have been a letdown for Wall Street. But dont expect sluggish sales of the iPhone 4S a handset that includes new software with more than 200 new features and a dual processor that makes it twice as fast as the previous version.
Apple set a record (about 1 million pre-orders) in the first 24 hours that the gadget could be purchased ahead of retail store sales. And the line Friday morning outside Apples store in Boulder was just one of many indications that demand for the iPhone 4S was firm on the first day that the device was sold in retail stores across the country, including through the three largest wireless operators: Verizon Wireless, AT&T and Sprint.
“We are very pleased with the response from customers today,” said Bob Kelley, a Verizon Wireless spokesman in Colorado, who noted he had visited some stores today but declined to disclose any actual sales numbers.
Scott Winget, a Boulder resident who owns an antiquated Nokia phone, was in line to buy an iPhone 4S and sign up for service with Sprint, which has rights for the first time ever to sell the iPhone. Winget has been a T-Mobile customer and has been happy with T-Mobiles customer service and rates. But the University of Colorado graduate, who grew up using Macintosh computers, said the iPhone 4S camera and video camera will come in handy for him at a bike park where he does construction maintenance and other jobs because he intends to document his work.
T-Mobile customer Dave Ken was defecting to Sprint for another reason: spotty coverage at his carrier. Ken, who was waiting in line to buy two iPhones for himself and his wife, also mentioned that his friends like Sprint.
The iPhone launch has helped put Sprint on a more equal footing to compete with its larger rivals, Verizon Wireless and AT&T. The launch, though, isnt good news for everyone in the communications industry, including BlackBerry maker Research in Motion, which experienced an interruption in service this week that affected many customers around the world in a widely reported crisis that has exacerbated its struggles over the past several months.
At Sprints retail store north of Boulder in Longmont, Colo., BlackBerry Curve owner Ray Johnson was waiting to buy an iPhone 4S. But he didnt really bash BlackBerry.
My phone is a little older,” he said, and Johnson has been waiting years for Sprint to get an iPhone.
Sprint customer Judd Topping the owner of an HTC Evo smartphone echoed that sentiment: Ive been waiting for the iPhone to come to Sprint for a long time.”
That kind of anticipation helped Sprint record what its product chief Fared Adib said Friday afternoon was the carriers best ever day of sales in retail, Web and telesales for a device family in Sprint history with the launch of the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4.”
The response to this device by current and new customers has surpassed our expectations,” Adib said, and validates our customers desire for a truly unlimited data pricing plan.”
Sprint was not only the carrier to benefit from the iPhone. A block away, Matt Johnson another BlackBerry Curve owner was at the Verizon store to get a few iPhones at the direction of his wife.
She told me I had to have one and she wanted one,” said Johnson, who was switching from T-Mobile where he had experienced no real problems” to Verizon Wireless.
Johnson and his wife represent yet two more customers for Verizon Wireless the nations largest wireless operator at the expense of T-Mobile, which has been struggling with subscriber losses and is the only U.S. carrier of the largest four operators without the rights to sell the iPhone.