AT&T cost Apple 1 million iPhone 4s in lost sales?

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AT&T cost Apple 1 million iPhone 4s in lost sales

Every timed out connection, every 404 error, every “site down for maintenance” cost Apple and AT&T money, as customers moved in to snap up the latest addition the uber-successful iPhone line. According to Apple, over 600,000 iPhone 4s were sold to the patient, early or just plain lucky customers. If the pre-sale had not been botched, how many more iPhone 4s would have sold?

It’s a serious question and one we bet Apple is asking. Looking at the chart above, note that some figures are for opening weekend and some are pre sales, as they were for the iPhone 4 so it’s not all immediately comparable. From personal experience, I can tell you I and a bunch in my social circle, skipped the 3GS version as it just seemed a superfluous upgrade. iPhone 4 changed that for me, and apparently a bunch of other folks.

AT&T says 13 million customers came ‘a knocking, checking their upgrade options. It is not clear if that’s unique or maybe 600,000 doing multiple attempts? AT&T said, “In addition to unprecedented pre-order sales, yesterday there were more than 13 million visits to AT&T’s website where customers can check to see if they are eligible to upgrade to a new phone; that number is about 3-times higher than the previous record for eligibility upgrade checks in one day.”

Parsing that quote out, the seem to say 13 million folks checked their eligibility but could be read as the site had 13 million visits. Go figure. 600,000 is a very small fraction of 13 million. If you take a generic (and probably flawed) conversion rate for electronics to be 1.2%, that’s 1.5 million iPhone 4 sold with the process working like magic. Apple and AT&T scored less than half that.

That says, opening weekend (assuming there is stock) could sell another million iPhone 4s to loyal fans. However, if the pre-sale debacle was the last straw for some AT&T customers, the new Droid could look a lot more appetizing if only to escape to a competing network.

What do you think? Did AT&T cost Apple a bundle of iPhones or is this on Apple too? Let us know in the comments.

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