Consumers who want an Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone from Verizon Wireless can no longer order it online. The Verizon Wireless website posted a message which says
iPhone 4. Verizon. It begins.We are no longer taking pre-sale orders.Experience yours when it’s available online and in stores.
It does not really “begin” when there are no iPhones to being with. Verizon said orders should be available again next week. The Verizon site was shut to visitors just before the announcement.
Verizon is not telling why the online iPhone pre-order option is closed down. Perhaps the iPhone does not work on its system as well as reviewers say it does. Perhaps there is some flaw in the way the smartphone is configured for the Verizon network. Perhaps the signal can be partly blocked as was the case when the iPhone 4 launched with AT&T (NYSE T). There was a hardware problem that Apple barely acknowledged.
Of the conspiracy theories that the Verizon Wireless announcement will cause, the best may be that the data to and from the handset over taxes the phone company’s wireless infrastructure. Perhaps Verizon has figured that out already. A similar problem plagued the AT&T system and has driven its customer service ratings down. Verizon has already said its will slow download speeds for the 5% of iPhone customers who use the most bandwidth. That could be a prophylactic measure to prevent the Verizon network from slowing data transfer to a halt particularly in high usage areas.
It is just as likely that Verizon Wireless has run out of iPhones. That happened when the first iPhone launched and when the iPad was released. Apple never gave a complete explanation. The best guess was that both Apple and its carrier partners did not expect a raging flood of orders. Apple should have learned something from that, but its suppliers may have run low on critical parts and Apple cannot readily solve the problem.
One of the wonderful things about Apple, at least for Apple, is that consumers are willing to wait in nearly endless lines and for days-upon-days to get its newest gadgets. Verizon Wireless may have stopped taking pre-orders online, but it will not affect sales one bit.
Douglas A. McIntyre