Developer's sales suggest Verizon iPhone selling to existing iOS users

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One prominent App Store developer has found the launch of the Verizon iPhone earlier this month had no discernible effect on software sales, while other events like launches and the holidays caused "huge spikes," suggesting new customers already owned an iPhone or iPod touch.

Marco Arment of the popular Instapaper application (iTunes link) for iPhone and iPad, noted this week that rankings for his software are usually relatively steady, but sales can vary — particularly when an iPhone-related event occurs. Based on this, he assumes that sales of Instapaper could indicate overall App Store trends.

"The results are fairly obvious: I see huge spikes whenever there's a new iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad released, whenever they become available in a major new country, or whenever there's a major reason for people to buy a lot of them (like the holidays)," Arment wrote.

Since the Verizon iPhone 4 launched on Feb. 10, Arment's application has seen no major change in sales. He noted that his ranks on the App Store have been nearly constant, as have overall sales.

Based on his assumption that sales of his application could indicate overall iPhone trends, Arment offers three potential theories on launch sales of the Verizon iPhone 4. First, he says it's possible that very few Verizon iPhones have been sold, a suggestion he calls unlikely. Second, he said it's possible that Verizon iPhone owners aren't buying many applications, which he also considers unlikely.

Finally, Arment suggested that most Verizon iPhones have been sold to existing iPhone or iPod touch users. In this scenario, customers getting the Verizon iPhone could already own most or all of the App Store software they would be interested in buying.

Sales of Instapaper have not seen a boost from the Verizon iPhone launch.

The developer said he believes most buyers of the Verizon iPhone 4 are casual users, with "different priorities" than Apple enthusiasts. He believes they are more patient for upgrades, which could result in demand for the handset being spread over a long period of time.

"I think that, while the Verizon iPhone's sales are going to be strong overall, it's going to be at a far more gradual rate than people like me had initially assumed," he wrote.

Though Apple and Verizon have not made an announcement on initial iPhone 4 sales, one rumor last week suggested the two companies were disappointed with initial uptake. However, a Verizon spokesperson contradicted that report, and said the company was pleased with initial sales.

Analysts on Wall Street said they expected sales of the new Verizon iPhone to sell about a million in the first week. The launch is expected to have been smaller than ones at rival carrier AT&T because the iPhone 4 first launched last June, and was essentially the same phone that debuted on Verizon's network this month.