So much for my skepticism. Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) "iDay," which was supposed to bring in at least $200 million in iPhone sales, may have brought in much more.
Lines were long all across the country. Hundreds of New Yorkers camped for the better part of a week. Here in Colorado, lines began forming Thursday morning, in 100-degree weather. And when the doors opened at 6 p.m. in the Denver area on Friday? The throngs were waiting eagerly.
But that's nothing. What blew me away is that, within 20 minutes, the line disappeared. Gone. See ya. Buh-bye.
Apple's staff was so blazing fast at ringing up sales that most shoppers left the store in less than two minutes -- with more than one iPhone in hand.
A million here, a million there ...
Analysts can't agree on what that means. Estimates range from a "disappointing" 312,000 iPhones sold to more than 500,000 sold.
As if. What matters here is that Apple sold boatloads of iPhones -- 312,000 of them, at an average price of $550, comes to more than $171 million in revenue. In two days. That's more than good; that's crazy good.
But no one should be surprised. Weekend reports of cheering customers were common. At my local store, iAddicts were chanting "Let's go, iPhone!" as they entered the store. And, of course, they left just as happy.
Hooray for eBay!
Some are still hoping to profit from the first-day giddiness. This morning, there were nearly 10,000 listings for "iPhone" at eBay. As I type, one guy is about to unload an 8-gigabyte model -- which retails for $599 -- for $799.
Another is selling two 8-gig models for $1,777.77. Bidding will have surpassed $1,550 as you read this. I mean, wow. Is the iPhone so good as to transform e-shoppers into slack-jawed morons? Apparently.
Though AT&T (NYSE:T) says it has mostly sold out of the iPhone, Apple appears to have plenty on hand at its retail outlets. Stores in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco still had iPhones available as of this morning. Here in Denver, too. And in the D.C. suburbs, where Fool HQ makes its home.
Beam me up, Steve
After taking a tour of the iPhone, I can see why it strikes such a chord. It's so Star Trek.
First, there's the interface. It's exceedingly simple. Touch an icon, and you get a response. But the touch-screen is also pretty forgiving. For example, if you touch "d" instead of "s" while looking up the local Starbucks, keep your finger in place, slide it to "s", and then release. Voila! Problem solved.
Google Maps is pretty cool, too. A car-shaped icon reveals traffic on major roads in the area you're viewing. Safari, meanwhile, offers as good a browsing experience as I've ever seen on a phone. (Though I still use Firefox for my Mac.)
Finally, there's the phone itself. Sleek and stylish, it looks futuristic compared to my Treo. Or, frankly, to any device made by Palm (NASDAQ:PALM), Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM), or Nokia (NYSE:NOK).
More poaching potential?
Now, critics will assert -- rightly, I might add -- that iPhone is limited because of its skinny support for Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Exchange Server, which has become a widely adopted corporate standard for email.
RIM's BlackBerry has long been a favorite among IT managers precisely because it deftly handles Exchange. Till the iPhone does the same, industry-watchers say, there's no reason to expect the iPhone to displace well-heeled rivals.
Perhaps. But is full Exchange support anything more than a software tweak? I don't think so. What's more, Apple has proved effective at adopting Windows for its own purposes when necessary (witness iTunes). There's no reason to expect it won't here.
Finally, remember that every single gadget that today is a corporate standard -- the BlackBerry, for example -- began as an intruder in corporate networks. They became standards only after IT managers could no longer stiff-arm hordes of eager users who also happened to be employees.
iDay: Mission (mostly) accomplished
For many, the iPhone seems to be exactly what they expected. But not everyone. Some customers were left stranded by AT&T, which reported that overwhelming demand pummeled its servers, causing hours of delays in activating some iPhones.
We don't yet know how widespread the problem was, but at least for now, it doesn't seem to have put a crimp in sales. And it hasn't dampened enthusiasm for those who have the iPhone. Here's how frequent Fool.com poster JJMSpartan describes the experience: "I've had the iPhone in my hands and using it pretty much non-stop for the last few days, and all I can say is WOW ... There are a few minor things I'd like to see cleaned up, but it's about 98% awesome, 2% frustrating."
Fellow Fool Kristin Graham has her own glowing review right here.
With many more like these two posting to our boards and elsewhere, it looks like the iEmpire -- once again -- has a runaway hit. Well done, Apple.
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