Apple’s iLaunch Outshines AT&T

If you actually stepped into one of the hectic Apple or AT&T stores this weekend for the iPhone launch, it was pretty clear the debut was an Apple event first and foremost. Down at the Emeryville Bay Street Mall in the east bay, where there is an Apple store on one side of a street and a AT&T store on the other, the line for the Apple store was over double the size of the line outside of the AT&T store.

And the preliminary numbers are matching that casual observance. Bloomberg quotes Trip Chowdhry, an analyst with San Francisco-based Global Equities Research, who says Apple stores sold an estimated 128,000 iPhones on the first day, while AT&T stores sold 72,000. Not bad for either company, but it’s clear who holds the buzz card.

The LA Times quotes Chowdhry as saying AT&T didnt seem to have expected such a high demand and had insufficient technical staff on hand. The Times says many AT&T stores sold out by Saturday. For the weekend, analysts are already predicting that the iPhone sold anywhere from 500,000 to 525,000 to 700,000 (update).

A lot of the iPhone excitement from the perspective of industry-watchers is how Apple’s cell phone will fundamentally change the wireless business. Apple’s dominance of the iPhone launch is a good knock at the carrier-controlled wireless industry model.

Though of course AT&T is getting a good boost from iPhone madness too. John Hodulik of UBS Research believes that any gains by AT&T will be Sprint’s loss. He believes that iPhone will help AT&T gain share in postpaid gross adds and “Sprint Nextel will see some loss of postpaid gross add share” in the second half of 2007. He cut his post paid adds estimates for Sprint from 580,000 to 120,000.