In early May, we called 36 AT&T Wireless stores and found out that many of those stores carried waiting lists for the iPhone. This research lead us to believe that demand was perhaps stronger than anticipated for this hotly anticipated device. As a follow-up to that survey, we recently called 100 more stores to confirm or refute our earlier study. We asked three key questions of our survey respondents:
1. Is the retail outlet corporate owned or a franchise location?
2. Can the iPhone be pre-ordered?
3. Is there a waiting list?
We viewed the question on pre-ordering as one that implied the ability to better guarantee an iPhone when released. As reported widely last week, Apple released television ads highlighting that June 29th would be the launch date for the phone.
The results appear to confirm our previous study that demand for the iPhone is strong.
For the follow-up study, we called 100 AT&T Wireless stores - 57 were corporate owned and 43 were franchisee owned. 37% of the stores reported pre-order lists, while 55% of the surveyed stores reported waiting lists. Overall, there was very little difference between the corporate-owned and the franchised stores. The parity between the rates of pre-order lists suggests that corporate missives from AT&T are not altering behavior of the employees at the retail level. We continue to believe that employees are creating pre-order and waiting lists to lock-in iPhone customers and as a result, to lock-in sales commissions for themselves. The violation of corporate policy at corporate owned stores further validates the powerful demand building for the iPhone product in our opinion.
As we understand it, the official AT&T policy is no waiting lists for any phones, yet we have found significant waiting lists at many of the 136 AT&T stores we’ve called. We believe that the waiting lists, in violation of corporate policy, provide a picture into demand for the iPhone. We believe our survey results indicate that demand will be significant and that while great success is already expected for the iPhone, the actual demand may still exceed these expectations.