Verizon's Mead defends iPhone sales, hints of Apple LTE products

Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) is trying to counter perceptions that its launch of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 4 has not met company expectations.

Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead said that reports of weak sales of the Verizon iPhone, which went on sale Feb. 10, are incorrect. He added that there were small lines at Verizon stores across the country on the day of the launch because so many people pre-ordered the device online ahead of time. Verizon started taking pre-orders for the iPhone 4 at 3 a.m. EST Feb. 3 for existing customers. According to the carrier, within the first two hours it sold more phones than any first day launch in its history, an echo of the flood of traffic that greeted AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) when it took pre-orders for the device in June.

Mead said that the company deliberately decided to stagger the launch schedule to ensure a better customer experience and that more than 60 percent of iPhone sale occurred online. "If we had not done online, you would have seen a much different flow in the pictures," he said. Verizon also plans on doubling the number of stores that sell the iPhone from 4,000 to 8,000 within the next few days, Mead said.

Interestingly, Mead also said that he expects Apple to release LTE products in the future, though he declined to give specifics on the products or launch timing. "You'll see more coming from Apple on LTE," he said. "They understand the value proposition of LTE and I feel very confident that they are going to be a part of it."

Apple COO Tim Cook said at the time the Verizon iPhone was announced that there were two main reasons Apple built the phone for Verizon's CDMA network. "The first-generation LTE chipsets force some design compromises, some of which we would not make," he said. "And secondly, and most importantly, Verizon customers have told us they want the iPhone now."

Meanwhile, in a blow to Verizon, Consumer Reports said Friday it could not recommend the CDMA version of the iPhone because it suffered from the same tendency to drop calls that the AT&T version experienced last summer.  That problem caused Apple to offer free bumper cases for customers. "The Verizon iPhone 4 closely resembles the original AT&T iPhone 4 in many positive respects, including offering great multimedia functionality, a sharp screen, and the best MP3 player we've seen on a phone," the publication said. "Unfortunately, it also shares with its sibling the possibility of compromised performance in low-signal conditions when used without a bumper or case."

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this BGR post

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