iPhone on Verizon sets first day sales record in two hours

Sells out initial supply of iPhones, though Verizon won't disclose sales numbers

Verizon Wireless Friday claimed that the pre-order sales of its iPhone 4 yesterday set a record for a first-day launch of any Verizon phone.

The record was set by 5 a.m. EST yesterday, just two hours after the sale started, Verizon said.

The carrier said it officially ceased taking online orders after the iPhone supply sold out at 8:10 p.m. EST. Many customers said they could not make orders after about 7:30 p.m. EST.

"This was an exciting day," said Dan Mead, president and CEO for Verizon Wireless, in a statement. "In just our first two hours, we had already sold more phones than any first day launch in our history."

He didn't say how many iPhones were sold, however. Verizon officials have said they expect to sell 11 million iPhones throughout all of 2011.

Pre-order sales started at 3 a.m. Thursday, and many customers reported they could not make online orders after 7:30 p.m. ET.

Mead said that considering the initial orders were placed between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m., the sale "is an incredible success story."

Analysts have expected an enthusiastic customer response to the Verizon iPhone after years of criticism of network connections for the iPhone on AT&T, which had held the exclusive rights to the iPhone since its launch.

However, analysts also noted that reporting a first-day sell-out without disclosing the number of devices sold could be misleading, since Verizon could be holding back its supply to exaggerate enthusiasm for its iPhone.

Verizon said it will open 2,000 of its stores at 7 a.m. on Feb. 10 to start selling the iPhone, which will also be available at Apple stores, Best Buy, online and some Wal-Mart stores.

Both Apple and Verizon were expected to allow pre-sales online at 3 a.m. Feb. 9 as well, but Verizon did not update whether that offer will still apply.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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