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Opening Weekend: iPhone vs. Pre vs. Droid

After heavy promotion, including a little negative advertising, Verizon (s vz) launched the Droid over the weekend, and two days later the first sales estimates are in: 100,000.


Speaking with Bloomberg, Analyst Mark McKechnie of Broadpoint AmTech thinks that’s pretty good. Noting that Verizon had 200,000 Droids on the shelves for launch, he said most stores sold at least half their inventory.

“I see the first few days as encouraging,” McKechnie said. “There seems to be pretty good demand — they’ve taken the right steps and picked a good partner with Google on the Android side.”

While that may be true, comparing the Droid to the iPhone and the Palm Pre during their launch weekends paints a different picture…or chart.

According to Apple (s aapl), both the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS sold more than a million units during their first weekend. Some might argue that’s an unfair comparison, in that both iPhones were available in multiple countries. Both also benefited from the App Store, though that was far more of an advantage for the 3GS. When the iPhone 3G went on sale, there were only 500 apps available, compared to more than 10,000 for the Droid now.

Still, a more fair comparison might be found with the original iPhone, as it too was sold in the U.S. on a single network. However, it should also be pointed out that Verizon has more customers than AT&T, and that the original iPhone was not a 3G device, and that the 8GB model cost $599.

Nonetheless, Verizon’s 100,000 Droids looks pretty good next to Apple’s 270,000 iPhones, except for one thing. That number does not include Sunday sales, which fell on July 1 and were part of a new quarter. It’s very possible Apple sold as many as 400,000 iPhones during that first weekend of lines around the block.

Of course, lines aren’t everything. As Verizon spokesperson David Samberg said to CNET regarding Friday’s Droid launch, “long lines forming outside are flashy,” but the goal is a “a steady stream of people” over days and weeks. Perhaps the Droid would be better compared to Palm’s smartphone, which is estimated to have sold around 50,000 units during its launch weekend.

It’s looks like Verizon may have a “Pre killer” in the Droid.

65 Responses to “Opening Weekend: iPhone vs. Pre vs. Droid”

  1. I have had them side by side. Very objective. Very openminded.

    Not even close.

    Driod lags lags after 2 apps, not a user friendly.

    Long way to go but maybe someday Driod will surpass the iPhone

  2. iphonelover

    I currently own a blackberry storm and an iphone 3GS and work for a phone store where the new DROIDS are sold. I am sitting with all four phones in front of me and decided to test their speed of going to websites and this what i found: my iPhone won hands down, fully downloaded a full website in 3-5 seconds and im in limitted service area, also they were websites not loaded on any phone before and tried several different times. My iPhone won every time! Then in second place just a couple of seconds behind was the Motorola Droid which i must say is quite fast, bad and ugly design, but ok it is pretty fast, third place is the HTC Droid Eris – which by the way has a much nicer design than the Motorola Droid and is cheaper, but not quite as fast as the Motorola Droid and not at all as fast as my iPhone 3GS, and the last place took my Blackberry Storm which was considering the idea of going to a website or not way after all the phones had downloaded the page… pretty slow, clicks bad, freezes, not well designed, and just plain worst phone ever except for the awesome flash it has when taking pictures and because i must have a blackberry to work for before mentioned phone place…

  3. The iPhone versus Droid war reminds me of the late 80’s when Apple, Amiga, Atari, and the PC (Microsoft basically) were at war on the home computer front. The only OS with pre-emptive multi-tasking at that time was the Amiga OS. Steve Jobbs was reportedly not too concerned about Microsoft but was absolutely scared of the Amiga’s capabilities. Needless to say, Microsoft began their domination heading into the 90’s. Amiga crashed and burned because of poor management (at Commodore), poor marketing, and problems in product development and launches. All of those things were true, but Apple and Microsoft had significant businesses in the eduction and business markets, respectively. These kinds of alliances killed Commodore, Atari, Texas Instruments, Leading Edge, etc. This same situation won’t help Google’s cause, either – regardless of the fact that the Android was the first to provide multiple/simultaneous application UI processing.

    Google is obviously a well-run company and they had a great technology in the Android OS, but Google does not have a foot hold in education or in business. For a lot of young people, Apple is really the ‘happening’ product, be it in education, entertainment, or social environment. That is a HUGE edge that should not be underestimated. Google has to win a larger share in those environments to really put Apple back to where it was (as the loser – at least in the 90’s) in the PC wars.

    The launch weekend sales figure speaks for itself. The AT&T ‘problem’ for Apple will sort itself out, which is really not the biggest deal. Has it been a problem for Apple, yet, in terms of sales?

    Look, I am biased, because I love Apple’s success story. Apple was started out of a garage and are the true innovators in personal computing. Steve Jobbs and his team deserve praise – for starting up the PC wars again in recent years (in my opinion) and for pushing innovation going into the 21st century. They turned the cell phone industry on its head with the iPhone and I think that Apple will innovate – once again – in hardware and continue to leave the competition clueless. The trick is to drive quantum leap innovation in hardware and Apple has stuck by that – for years – and they are finally reaping the hard-earned rewards.

    Sure, the Droid and other Android phones will make some dent in the iPhone sales, but lookout when Apple unveils some next generation hardware. the key is in the hardware design – period.

  4. CCOADY454

    1. Those estimates are off by a good 150-400%. 250,000 – 400,000 were the estimates I saw on multiple REPUTABLE sites.
    2. The estimates for the doid, are for US sales only. Iphone 3GS opening weekend included the U.S. and 8 other countries.

    Nice poor estimations/journalism. Maybe you need to research a little (a lot)better. I bet there’s an APP for that. Call someone with the answers, if you can keep your call from dropping.

  5. way to choose to ignore the other estimate of 400,000. Admit it, you did that on purpose to make the Droid look bad. the 400,000 estimate would match your estimate of 400,000 including Sunday and you couldn’t bear to have anything match your precious iPhone. You are aware that the 100,000 estimate was based on only verizon stores and not walmart, online, best buy, amazon etc where it was also sold, right?

    This article was posted the same day as this post… no way you missed the 400,000 number.

    • seismedia

      Hold on there wowwwboy! Before you get all excited about 400,000 (a number still being disputed), Verizon has a 30-day money back, get out of your contract clause, so counting any number is premature for the next 24 days.

    • im pretty sure they didn’t remove units sold from the iphone amount for returned units either. Personally I think 400,000 is pretty darn good for a US only launch. People seem to forget that the iPhone 3gs launched in multiple countries.

  6. currently I’m going with WebOS vs Android considering the bankroll of the launch companies the Pre did quite well… I like the Android 2.0 OS which is what separates moto droid right now but the phone has non fixable issues. Everything currently complained about on the Pre can be fixed with software updates (and already has been fixed for homebrew users) The droids and iphones complaints primarily require a new phone. I haven’t seen any innovative updates to the iPhone in quite a while so unless they open up or release a totally revised OS I see them dropping out of the OS race. The main reason I say that is whereas there are things the iPhone/Pre/Droid can do that the others can’t there is nothing the iPhone can do that Android and WebOS can’t.

    after reading all the comments I notice everyone talking about what droid can’t do that the iphone can but not bothering to mention that the pre can do everything they have mentioned… In many cases better than the iphone.

    • The Pre has so much potential. The problem is that Palm has been far too slow. Their hardware has way too little storage. I agree, though, that the iphone has not been innovating lately. Again, though, Palm will have a hard time getting developers to make apps if the market becomes dominated by Android and the iPhone. Web OS will just be a tiny flea in a sea of Android phones and the iphone and won’t even be noticed by consumers. The Droid definitely has some hardware issues (witness a lousy keyboard), but the Pre’s keyboard is equally bad or worse.

    • Like I said considering the bankroll the Pre did well… You can’t expect things to move as quickly for Palm since they are for all intents and purposes completely broke. I’m not really a fan of Palm as a company but WebOS is undeniably good. The keyboard on the Pre gets a lot more bad press than it deserves in my opinion since its only a complaint from reviewers… Forum users and owners have no problem with it. The apps will be the main issue… It’s sad because WebOS is the simplest OS to develop for and is getting even simpler but since the user base is smaller even between official and homebrew there’s slightly under 1000 apps after 5 months. Historically that isn’t bad but huge amounts of apps are expected by all phones at this point and most people have no interest in installing a PalmOS emulator on their WebOS phone to have more apps so if it isn’t stepped up it will fail. The upside though would be that since palm implemented the ability to charge for apps the number has been going up much more rapidly.

    • It’s not about ‘what’ the iPhone can or cannot do, it’s about HOW it does it.

      It’s the user experience, along with the integration of the ipod, itunes, app store, best in class internet browsing and well thought out design that has people buying it in their droves.

      Heck, if it was about what an OS ‘can’ do, then windows mobile 6.1 would be top dog.

  7. The Android’s biggest threat initially is to the Palm Web OS, which is at great risk of quickly getting marginalized as the smartphone boils down to Apple and Android. Everything else will get lost in the noise. Palm’s going to crash and burn because of Android within a year or two. RIM too, had better get their act together because having superior corporate email alone won’t cut it long term.

  8. HCWHunter

    @ Justa NotherGuy,

    Uh, … If Verizon’s max speed with their EVDO Rev. A is 1.4 Mbit then they can’t match ATT’s max speed of almost 3.4 Mbit if both signals are under ideal conditions. Now of course ATT’s signal might be slowed by local conditions or by all the iPhone users sucking up bandwidth, but the fact remains that Verizon can’t ever provide more than 1.4 Mbit even under ideal conditions! You seem to want to compare apples and oranges by mixing coverage issues with speed capability. My comment to JCMX was about his “Verizon Network (an autobahn)” remark which clearly implies that the Verizon Network is FASTER not that it is more extensive.

  9. I love my Droid but it is no I phone killer. im coming from a Windows Mobile phone and I have Horrible Battery Life. I just learned that you can turn off apps and that the phone has Multi touch .. So exciting lol I made a video showing everyone how to do it also if your interested .. Hope it helps some people out

  10. I was with Verizon for 6 years and switch to ATT for the iPhone 1 week later droid comes out tried it at the Verizon store and didn’t impressed me at all. the only Apple’s problem is sticking with ATT as unique carrier. sometimes is like having a ferrari parked with no road to drive it. All I can say is all the new phones promise to be like or to beat the iPhone. I never heard of the iPhone trying to be like the Motorola, LG, HQC, Samsung, XYZ or ZYX … iPhone sets the standard… Apple please come out of ATT… Imagine iPhone (a ferrari ) on Verizon Network (an autobahn) what else you need ?

    • Justa Notherguy


      > Actually, the Verizon CDMA 3G speeds are
      > way slower than ATT GSM 3G speeds.

      Uh, actually – that isn’t necessarily so.

      It all depends upon where you are when you do the test. And in all of the areas where I know AT&T definitely provides faster service than VZW, it seems this is true because of recent upgrades, only. Remember AT&T’s many promises to improve their network? Well, I guess they weren’t kidding.

      In fact, all four of the big US cell providers are rolling out faster systems. (Cripes, T-Mobile offers something like 21Mbps in Philly.) Given all that activity, throughput speed is a moving target…no one can fairly claim a decisive victory in that spec unless they pick & choose areas of coverage.

      Presumably, this is why all of Verizon’s recent commercials cite ‘3G coverage’, only, instead of speed. If nothing else, it keeps the guys in Legal happy. :)

  11. HCWHunter

    I too welcome the Android competition as that just raises the smartphone bar. Apple will surely respond with enhancements and/or new iPhones.

    The only Droid features I want that aren’t already on the iPhone are multi-tasking and the GMaps Navigator. I’ve already heard that the Navi is coming to the iPhone and multi-tasking (perhaps limited) won’t be far behind, I’m sure. Widgets? Nah. Open source? Not important to me with so many apps already available. 5 mp camera w/flash? Very Nice, but not must-have.

    I would love for Apple or ATT to come out with a commercial showing someone using an iPhone to surf the net and getting a phone call, and then continuing to surf the net or look up something on Google while still talking on the iPhone. The Droid can’t do that!


  12. Back when the original iPhone was launched there were already tens of millions of iPod owners & fans. With the hugely successful iPod product line and massive existing user base, a new product that was a touchscreen iPod, a phone and more was bound to do well at launch. It was also rumored for nearly a year and was promoted during the Academy Awards. If the price hadn’t been so high it would have done even better.

    • Justa Notherguy


      > Were there no iPod touch, there would be far more iPhone owners.

      Maybe, but nowhere near all Touch owners are in that camp. I’d say you might convert 15%-20% of them at most.

      Everyone I know with a Touch – excluding those below the age of 21 – use it as a companion to their exiting cell phone, _specifically_ because they did not want an iPhone. Of course, their reasons vary. Some use their Touch because they don’t want or can’t afford a monthly cell bill. Some actively dislike the iPhone, or Apple, or AT&T. And yet others simply prefer their current phone or must stick with it, for some reason (e.g: business).

      Meanwhile, Apple often conflates iPhone & Touch data — see their App Store ‘total downloads’ press releases. So, there’s little (helpful) point in further muddying the water, by suggesting that Touch sales have somehow hurt the iPhone segment. In fact, I see more help than hindrance. For one thing, its all user-base and that encourages developers. And most people think every silver & black Apple touch-screen device is an iPhone, thus increasing the ‘cool factor’…or maybe its the ‘herd instinct’. ;)

  13. Surprisingly unbiased article you have here. Android is still a ways from having a slick and powerful package. Something like the Hero with a keyboard and the Droid processor. But it will happen soon. And Apple is going to find it difficult to fend off the onslaught of various ‘droid phones. But the smartphone market is growing, and there’s space for 3-4 major players.

  14. Regarding Android vs Pre sales, let’s not forget that Verizon has twice as many subscribers, so it’s no surprise that they sold twice as many phones. If you consider the fact that Sprint caters towards the less wealthy, I’d say the Pre did pretty well!

  15. However the number shake out, as a huge iPhone fan, I hope the Droid is successful. Competition is going to help the market and if developers find the Droid a more compelling platform hopefully Apple will make the changes necessary to improve that situation.

  16. Does it Matter?

    Comparing iPhone to Droid sales is like comparing Mac to Acer PC sales instead of Windows. Droid isn’t the iPhone’s competition- Google Android is.

    100,000 Droids sold instead of 1 million iPhones. Who cares?

    How many people went to a Verizon store to see the Droid only to walk out with the cheaper HTC-made Droid Eris? How many people went to a Best Buy and walked out with a Motorola Cliq on T Mobile or an HTC Hero on Sprint because they didn’t really want to change carriers? And how many people who have been thinking about getting their first smart phone now think it’s no longer “Apple or nothing?”

    Apple unfortunately is going into the holiday season without any buzz around their product. Whereas the Droid buzz of the past month is quietly creating sales for the cheaper, lesser Android phones AND on the other carriers.

    The Droid hype, despite who they’re taking shots at, isn’t about winning over iPhone users unhappy with AT&T its about making people about to buy their first smart phone in December know there are lots of options and they don’t have to go to AT&T to get it.

    Also, it doesn’t matter if the iPhone had originally gone to Verizon instead of AT&T. One carrier, no matter who it was, still forces users of the other carriers to switch and EVERY carrier has holes in it’s coverage somewhere.

    Yes people so far have been willing to do this to get the iPhone because it was so much better than anything else, but now that there are “close enough” options that allow users to stay with the carrier they are most happy with (or leave AT&T because they’re unhappy), expect that to change.

    In the past two months, Android has rolled out new phones on 3 of the 4 major carriers in the U.S. with AT&T rolling out Android in Q1 of next yer. Sure the “close enough” solution is still only on one carrier (Verizon) but in a matter of weeks phones that will speed past the Droid (and iPhone) will be on T Mobile, Sprint and even AT&T.

    Apple, however, is locked into just AT&T until Q3 of next year. That’s a long time in the cell phone space. By the time Apple is free to bring the iPhone to other carriers, the Droid will be an obsoleted phone and Motorola won’t even be the #1 Android hardware maker anyone cares about.

    And what Android brings to the table is the ability for users to get phones that meet their INDIVIDUAL lifestyle needs instead of saying, “this is our phone, and here’s how you can use it.”

    Motorola, with the Droid and Cliq, is catering to the people who say we love the iPhone but just want a keyboard.

    Just like Apple, Sony knows how to make elegant hardware and in a few months their 1ghz Android phone will process circles around Droid and the iPhone. Plus, it’s going to be the phone people who want serious camera functionality will buy- over the iPhone and Droid.

    Dell knows how to sell into corporate America far better than Apple or Motorola and they’ll be AT&T’s first partner for Android. If there’s anyone RIM and Windows Mobile should be worried about it’s Dell’s corporate sales force.

    Then you have Acer, who specializes in making consumer grade equipment on the cheap, rolling out a 1ghz Android phone. Do you think a happy Sprint/T Mobile customer is going to jump to AT&T for even a $99 iPhone when they can get a faster Acer phone for free?

    Now, all you Apple loyalist will want to say I’m stupid for daring to question the almightly Steve Jobs, but I sold Apple to the educational market in the 1990’s, so I’ve lived this battle before.

    The difference is Microsoft had no desire to bring anything new or cool to the table- they just made a crappy me-to solutions and sold it on the cheap. Google, on the other hand, has won every battle it’s ever fought through innovation and by being better than the competition.

    The Droid, in my opinion, suffers from being rushed to market to hit the holiday buying cycle, but Google phone, the GPS application, etc are all technologies that say, “innovation” which didn’t come from Cupertino- and that’s not something Apple’s ever had to contend with in the past. If Google continues to improve Android at the rate they have and continues to add in features Apple doesn’t offer, it’s going to be a lot uglier for Apple than the Apple vs. Microsoft battles.

    • Does It Matter - No

      Making a lot of presumptions there Does It Matter – A lot of them probably wrong. It’s not the PC wars all over agai, Dell may not matter as the corp IT depts don’t control the new cell tech, individuals make their own choices. Jobs probab;y doesn’t care if Acer eventually enters the market, would rather have profits than pennies, that Android won’t fragment into incompatible hell, and finally that Apple will be standing still through all this.

    • ProfessionalGun

      @”Does It Matter – No” – you’re suggesting some strange presumptions of our own, there. Dell & Acer and any other company that creates Android devices is contributing to the pool of Android users. It’s no question that “individuals make their own choices” – and the choices will be readily available as a result of all these companies stepping into the pool.

      Remember – more Android users leads to a larger developer community which leads to a more robust Android Market which leads to an even better value proposition for consumers.

      We’ve seen that happen in a HUGE way with the iPhone. The difference here is that Android won’t be confined to one device controlled by one company. That’s an important distinction.

      So yes, the logical next question is – how scalable IS the Android OS? Can it handle the huge technical burden posed by supporting a vast array of different devices? . . . That remains to be seen. It will be a very interesting thing to see unfold, that’s for certain.

    • …the iPhone doesn’t need to go into the holiday season with a lot of buzz — they just need to make sure there’s enough holiday staff on hand to process purchases in a timely manner ;)

      It’s not really a battle — the iPhone is the standard, it’s what new products are compared to. There’s plenty of market share left over for fringe-OS devices, whether it be Android or Windows mobile — we’ll never have a shortage of gadgetry to play with :)

    • ProfessionalGun


      Fringe OS’s, eh? :) I think those are likely to be Nokia’s Maemo, Samsung’s Bada and the dying Symbian OS. It’s difficult to imagine Android & Windows Mobile not being major players right along with Apple.

  17. Justa Notherguy

    100K to 200K units looks damn good, when you consider that Droid…

    (1) is manufactured by a faded, moribund hardware company
    (2) sold on a network that’s famous for both a ham-fisted control of handset features and a nickel-and-dime approach to fees
    (3) was promoted for only about 30 days, after Verizon Wireless abruptly switched ad firms in midstream
    (4) stands independent, as a product, with no boost from adjunct positioning within an existing line of products (e.g.: iPod, Mac)

    …plus, perhaps most importantly…

    (5) offers none of the cachet of Apple’s 40-odd year reputation for interesting consumer products.

  18. It seems like the only people who really care about iPhone vs. Droid sales are Apple users who will never part with their brand loyalty. I wanted an iPhone but I didn’t want to switch to AT&T. Now that I have a droid I’m happy. I have a phone that does everything the iPhone does and I didn’t have to leave. If Apple makes a droid killer for Verizon I’ll think about changing phones in two years when it’s time to upgrade.

  19. I stood in line for the iPhone, then a year later for the iPhone 3G, and returned them both.

    I think I agree with David Samberg. Android or WebOS could completely derail the iPhone’s dominince in the space, but it won’t be with a big flashy launch because they don’t have a huge fanbase that will line up to buy a new product based on speculation. Instead, people will see the phones in the wild, realize that the OS is much more refined than they had realized, get addicted to multi-tasking, then head over to the store to buy one.

    It’s going to be interesting to see smartphone market share by OS by this time next year.

    • Justa Notherguy

      What’s really going to hurt Apple is the inevitable equilibration of price vs perceived quality.

      Android now has a few dozen major corporations on its side, all trying to make it a success. Whatever else is true, the effect of bringing such a wise range of agendas and huge mass of assets – time, brains, money – to bear will be, inevitably, to drive prices down. At some point, iPhone must either compete on price or be relegated to a niche, ‘status’ product…shades of the late 1980s.

      On the other side, we have Apple and AT&T. The latter trades heavily on its US exclusivity, which helps them to resist downward pricing pressures from Sprint & T-Mobile, etc. The former relies – perhaps even more heavily – on high wholesale margins, plus an enviable subsidy deal. Some analysts say that AT&T pays Apple @$20-$25/mo. through 17 of 24 months, in a typical contract.

      I find it hard to see how this profitable arrangement can survive, once customers have access to a ‘good enough’ Android-powered smart phones in the range of $50…maybe even free, with a 2-year plan. What will Apple do, once they can’t count on all that cash-flow. from AT&T? And will other carriers fork over anything similar? Jobs had better hope that his new tablet scores big.

  20. seismedia

    “Verizon spokesperson David Samberg said regarding Friday’s Droid launch, “long lines forming outside are flashy,” but the goal is a “a steady stream of people” over days and weeks.”

    What a poo poo response! You get the “steady stream” of customers by having a fantastic first weekend! It’s called Momentum, but these guys at Verizon have been coddling themselves with excuses ever since they passed on the original iPhone. Verizon has a great network, but they need to reinvent their marketing efforts and the first step would be to let Mr. Samberg go and get someone with testicular fortitude who can deal with a disaster instead of just spinning it.

  21. Just wanted to point out… neither the iPhone 3G nor 3GS were available in all 70 countries immediately. Both were rolled out week-by-week. The 3G was available in 22 countries upon release and the 3GS in 8.

  22. If Verizon only had 200,000 droids to sell then it was impossible to outsell the iphone. Seems like Verizon never had the intention to compete with the iphone when it comes to launch weekend sales.