First Weekend iPhone Sales: 500,000+

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For readers who may have been in a cave during the last month—or who were perhaps abducted by aliens and only just returned to Earth—Apple launched it’s much-anticipated iPhone on Friday. Although most Apple stores and AT&T corporate stores did see people lining up for the 6 PM start of sales on Friday, the companies were able to meet initial demand in all but a few locations, and a feared iPhone sell-out never materialized—no doubt to the chagrin of folks who waited in line for units they hoped to unload on eBay at astonishing markups.

Consumer reaction to the iPhone appears to be mostly positive, with numerous reviewers gushing over the device and even wizened mobile technology veterans conceding the iPhone has much to commend it, even with a few rough edges. Most criticism seems to focus on Internet connectivity via AT&T’s comparatively low-bandwidth 2.5G EDGE network, and difficulties connecting to secured Wi-Fi networks (the onscreen keyboard combined with obscured password entry makes entering passwords a difficult experience). Some users are also concerned about setting up secure email transfer with .Mac and other services.

Although most iPhone buyers were able to activate their phones without difficulty, a small portion—estimated between 1 and 3 percent—experienced problems activating their phones. AT&T says it is working to resolve the issues, which were related to the sheer number of activations and users attempting to forward existing phone numbers to their iPhones.

In the meantime, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster issued a report Sunday estimating Apple would have sold 500,000 iPhones by the close of business Sunday, a substantial increase from his earlier estimates that Apple would sell 200,000 units its first weekend. The Los Angeles Times reports Trip Chowdhry, an analyst at Global Equities Research in San Francisco, estimates that Apple sold 525,000 iPhones during the first weekend.

Although Apple was able to weather the first weekend of sales, there are concern its inventory may now be running thing, with several west coast Apple Stores showing little or no iPhone availability on Apple’s retail locator site, although Apple says stores should receive new units “most days.”

For curious readers, the retail value of those 500,000 iPhones probably approaches $300 million.

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