Verizon iPhone debut greeted with short lines

February 10, 2011 By PETER SVENSSON , AP Technology Writer

(AP) -- The Verizon iPhone went on sale Thursday, but demand appeared to be tepid, with small or no lines at Verizon and Apple stores.

The launch of new iPhone models at AT&T Inc. every summer has meant long overnight lines.

may have satisfied most of the demand by allowing online pre-orders for current subscribers. The poor showing in stores, though, could be an indication that Verizon's phone may not have much power to draw subscribers from other carriers, though freezing temperatures Thursday across much of the country could have played a role.

In afternoon trading, shares of Verizon Communications Inc., which co-owns Verizon Wireless with Vodafone Group PLC, were down 38 cents at $36.31. Shares of Apple Inc. fell $2.75 to $355.41. Shares of AT&T Inc. bucked the trend, rising 32 cents to $28.29.

Verizon Wireless started taking pre-orders a week ago, and said that in just two hours, between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m., they broke the previous record for first-day phone orders.

AT&T Inc. has so far been the exclusive carrier of Apple Inc.'s popular phone in the U.S. It activated 15.2 million of them last year. Analyst estimates for Verizon sales this year vary widely, from 5 million to 13 million. Analysts expect the sales to Verizon subscribers will be strong, but few have dared to put a figure on how many subscribers Verizon will manage to grab from AT&T.

AT&T subscribers have complained about dropped calls and other problems with network performance, but their displeasure seems to have subsided a bit in the last year, as AT&T ramped up spending on network upgrades.

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