Brian White with Ticonderoga Securities admitted in a note to investors on Friday that trips to various Apple and Verizon stores in Manhattan for Thursday's launch day confirmed reports that lines were modest, or in some cases nonexistant. White said the retail launch was "a bit of a yawner" likely to due to strong pre-orders placed online, allowing customers to stay at work or at home and out of the cold weather.
"Although Manhattan clearly does not represent all of America, we believe this provides general color on demand trends," White said. "The lack of positive surprise on day one could provide an excuse for the stock to take a breather after a strong run after the past several weeks, however, we remain aggressive buyers of Apple on any weakness as we believe the company's portfolio has never been better positioned to capitalize on consumer trends."
White noted that Apple and Verizon sold out on initial preorders for existing customers in less than 24 hours. He has estimated that between the initial preorder and general online preorders that began on Wednesday, between 700,000 and a million units may have been sold.
"Given the extra cold weather this season, some consumers may have opted to wait to purchase a Verizon iPhone 4 or will simply order online," he said. "Finally, the App Stores seem to be less involved in this process versus the Verizon stores, and one worker indicated that some consumers were not even aware that the Verizon iPhone 4 was available at the Apple stores."
White expects that Verizon will activate 13.2 million iPhones in its first 12 months after the February launch, or 11.7 million iPhones in the remaining months of calendar year 2011. He cautioned, however, that those numbers "could prove conservative."
White also believes that Apple has more announcements planned for its CDMA iPhone 4 recently launched on the Verizon network, with China Telecom a likely candidate for a partnership.