Verizon (NYSE: VZ) doesn't want you to believe the hype.

Earlier reports of shorter-than-expected lines of iPhone 4 buyers at Apple's and Verizon's retail stores weren't indicative of demand for the handset, Verizon Wireless chief executive Daniel Mead said over the weekend.

Mead told The Wall Street Journal that more than 60% of sales of its version of the iPhone were processed online rather than in stores. "If we had not done online, you would have seen a much different flow in the pictures," Mead said in an interview with the Journal.

Is that an excuse? Maybe. The report is nevertheless interesting in that it's the first time in years I've seen an executive be forced to refute reports of soft demand for any sort of Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) device, iOS or otherwise.

The timing is also curious. On Wednesday, Apple will take an important step in defending against Motorola Mobility's (NYSE: MMI) well-received Xoom tablet and other threats to its burgeoning iOS empire when it unveils its next-generation iPad.

Earlier, Apple released a beta version of the newest edition of the Mac OS (code-named "Lion") to beta testers and security experts. The release is notable in that Lion is the first edition of the Mac OS to be imbued with iOS features, such as multitouch.

For investors, the question remains whether iOS competition from a slew of new Android devices, BlackBerry handsets, and the surprising tandem of Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Nokia (NYSE: NOK) will harm the underlying growth story.

Color me unconcerned. Apple's valuation doesn't require outsized growth in order to generate healthy returns for shareholders from today's prices.

And for as good as today's competition looks, recent history says knocking Apple off its perch is going to require more than good design and a decent price point. This is Apple's market to lose, and the company won't go down without a bitter and expensive fight.

Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think about Apple's iOS lineup, the competition, and Verizon's iPhone 4 using the comments box below. You can also rate Apple in Motley Fool CAPS.