Antennagate took big bite from iPhone sales, analysts say

But lack of iPhone support from Verizon is the bigger problem for Apple, according to a phone survey done in downtown Minneapolis by analyst firm Piper Jaffray.

The company surveyed 258 cell phone users in Minneapolis to gauge importance of antenna problems on iPhone 4 sales. "We found that the antenna issue has impacted the purchase of 20% of people who are aware of the iPhone 4 antenna issue," the analyst firm said in an email bulletin.

"While not the purpose of our survey, we also found that for every one respondent that acknowledged the antenna issue, about three complained about the iPhone not being on Verizon," Piper Jaffray said.

The firm added: "Conclusion: the antenna issue is removing upside potential for iPhone units, but Verizon is actually the most significant factor limiting demand."

The analysts expect Verizon to support the iPhone by mid-2011. "That said, Apple cannot make iPhone 4s fast enough to meet international demand, and these issues together do not change our confidence in our 11m iPhone unit estimate for the Sept. quarter," the analysts said.

Of the customers Piper Jaffray polled, 38% were on Verizon and 31% on AT&T. 40% have considered an iPhone, 8% already have one. 29% have considered an Android device, 9% already have one. They would've talked to more iPhone customers but the calls kept getting dropped. I made that last bit up.

Apple could lose up to $0.11 in September earnings per share due to the antenna issue, Piper Jaffray said.

My $0.02: This is an interesting report, but hardly definitive. It's limited to one city -- one part of one city. I've found that iPhone customer satisfaction varies widely geographically in the US, and it's based on how good AT&T service is in your area. If AT&T service is bad in your area, then you hate the iPhone and you have a dartboard with Steve Jobs's picture on it, and the words DIE DIE DIE scrawled across it. If AT&T service is good in your area, then you think the iPhone is the bees knees.

Today is a big day for iPhone users; Apple will probably ship an OS update with camera improvements, a new Game Center multi-player online network, and fixes to proximity-sensor issues, Bluetooth problems, and poor performance on the iPhone 3G.

Mitch Wagner

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is a freelance technology journalist and social media strategist.

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