Saturday, October 08, 2011

AT&T says pre-order demand for the iPhone 4S "extraordinary"

On Friday, the first day of iPhone 4S pre-orders, the nation's No. 2 wireless carrier said it saw "unprecedented" demand for the device, which underwhelmed many after its introduction on Tuesday.

AT&T issued a press release on Friday which said, "AT&T has seen extraordinary demand for iPhone 4S with more than 200,000 preorders in the first 12 hours alone, the most successful iPhone launch we've ever had. It's obvious customers like AT&T's 4G network, which is the only one that lets their iPhone download twice as fast and talk and surf simultaneously."

Indeed, you can see that AT&T turned the press release into an advertisement. Their reference to their FauxG (faux 4G) network refers to the AT&T iPhone 4's HSPA+ capability, which lets the device download data twice as fast as the Sprint and Verizon CDMA versions.

In terms of being able to talk and surf simultaneously, CDMA devices cannot use the Internet and talk on a phone call at the same time.

There's a little marketing hyperbole there, as AT&T's HSPA+ network covers about the same amount of the country as Verizon's LTE network, meaning that users in most of the country can't use that speed.

In addition, while it is true that CDMA devices can't browse and talk simultaneously, it's also true that talking has become overtaken by texting, especially in younger age groups.

Additionally, HSPA+ is not really 4G. Neither the Sprint nor Verizon iPhone 4S has WiMax or LTE capability, their versions of 4G, and closer to 4G than HSPA+ is, though also not really 4G.

The day didn't start well for AT&T, either. Shortly after midnight Pacific time, when pre-orders began, AT&T was having trouble confirming customer eligibility on its website, as well as through Apple's online store.

It's difficult to compare this year's sales with 2010. The iPhone 4S is now carried by three carriers, and when the iPhone 4 launched last summer it was only carried by AT&T. Neither Verizon nor Sprint has announced numbers, yet. In addition, Best Buy and RadioShack are offering pre-orders, too.

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