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Why Sprint Needn't Worry About Revised EVO Sales Numbers

Sprint’s (s s) sales of the HTC EVO 4 smartphone have been good, but not as good as the carrier first said they were. On June 7, Sprint issued a release stating that sales of the EVO in its first three days of availability were greater than the Palm Pre (s palm) and Samsung Instinct combined. Sprint is now backtracking on the three-day comparison, but still says the EVO 4G is the new first-day top seller.

From the newly updated release on sales figures, Sprint clarifies: “June 4, 2010 sales of HTC EVO 4G marked the largest quantity of a single phone sold in one day ever for Sprint – the record was previously held by both Samsung Instinct and Palm Pre. Launch day sales of HTC EVO 4G were six times greater than launch day sales of Samsung Instinct and nearly twice the launch day sales for Palm Pre. We continue to see sales of EVO 4G outpace sales of Samsung Instinct and Palm Pre.”

So does that mean the EVO isn’t as hot of a handset for the carrier as originally thought?

No, the likely reason that EVO sales figures aren’t higher is lack of supply — you can’t sell something you don’t have in the first place. BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk called more than 20 Sprint stores and verified reports that stock of EVO units is in short supply, and I’ve read various tweets confirming the same supply issue over the past several days. I imagine that Sprint is selling EVO handsets as fast as HTC can build them.

From the demand side, Sprint’s EVO offers several advantages over Sprint’s prior top-sellers. Indeed, James over at jkOnTheRun gave the EVO a glowingly positive review, even after learning the details of Apple’s (s aapl) upcoming iPhone 4, announced earlier this week. With the EVO, customers in a 4G coverage area immediately gain up to three times the data speeds of 3G phones and can also use data and voice calls at the same time.

Palm’s Pre offers a stellar user experience with webOS, but the EVO’s Android 2.1 UI is skinned with the pretty HTC Sense UI — a feature so good that I’ve hacked it onto my Nexus One. Samsung’s Instinct also offers a nice interface, but uses a proprietary platform and can’t take advantage of the more than 50,000 software applications available in the Google Android (s goog) market.

With great hardware married to the Android platform and Sprint’s 4G network, the EVO is likely to be the carrier’s top-selling phone this year. I still wonder to what degree the EVO will help stem the loss of Sprint subscribers, however. My tweeting and other informal social research indicates that most EVO customers are current Sprint subscribers, not new to the network — and if that trend is true, it’s a far bigger concern for Sprint than backtracking on first-weekend EVO sales.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

Marketing Handsets in the Superphone Era

14 Responses to “Why Sprint Needn't Worry About Revised EVO Sales Numbers”

  1. Aaron Johnson (CyKiller)

    Not sure where the romur is within any of the last 2 statements… one is bashing EVO for its battery life. I think its amazing for its powerful nature to have a retentive rate of what it can handle now. The Palm statement was more of a fact….not a rumor at all, the batter life is horrible compared to day 1 release with improvements coming from updates, and they the Pre Plus offering. EVO on the other hand is much better but I noted the similarity for a different reason, just stating they can improve if it is an issue for most. Coming from Pre (first gen) to EVO is an upgrade altogether for productivity for me from its battery life, offering more in my work load before its halted by a charge or limited to extend time.

    Once again no complaints here – things will improve but its already good for my expectations already.

    • Aaron, I think the battery life rumor point is meant for Michael’s comment above. He pulled quotes from the reviewers that point out abysmal battery life on the EVO. I’m sure those reviewers did strain the battery, but plenty of reviews (and more importantly, people who bought the phone) are painting a different picture. Ironically, the EVO got 7 hours and 23 minutes of talk time in PC Mag’s review, which is more than the new iPhone will get. ;)

      A larger display will use more power due to backlighting, as will the 4G radio of the EVO – of that I have no doubt. But some are making it sound like the device is only usable for a few hours, which for the vast majority of consumers, won’t be the case.

      • Aaron Johnson

        Given that none of the reviewers explained their usage level beyond personal usage and no details its not justifying much. In my everyday usage and many others it’s definitely up sided, the device has great power consumption compared to other devices and has room for improvement via updates.

        To all that have not gotten their hands on the device or choose not to because of battery claims, my advice in one word…..bullshit.

        Great unit, big improvement over the Pre for me where battery life was an issue. A deivce that will last for sometime and compete against even future coming devices overall beyond battery life…..enjoy. Thanks for pointing to Michael’s post, missed that.

    • Aaron Johnson (CyKiller)

      Palm is much worst…..try half the time on medium usage and a little over an hour of heavy usage (first gen Pre). Pre Plus has some improvements but I am not on AT&T….and there is no update for Sprint. Take into account that there is almost a 3 minute boot time – about 3-6% battery life used booting the damn phone.

      HTC has the power in their beastly EVO – and I am sure utilization updates for battery enhancements will come….just as there was for the Pre and other phones. I just wish companies rely on updates for features and not fixes, especially when it seems to be a carrier issue and should have been taken care of before launch. No complaints though for me, I know for sure there will be plenty of improvements to come for the EVO surrounding 4g power schemes. Good comment and good article Tofel.

  2. Oliver

    the EVO’s Android 2.1 UI is skinned with the pretty
    HTC Sense UI — a feature so good that I’ve hacked it
    onto my Nexus One.

    Is HTC okay with that?

    • I didn’t ask, and they haven’t shut down the thriving Android custom ROM community. Bear in mind I’m using HTC’s software on a device HTC was paid to build. If they were to off the Sense UI as a paid download, I’d buy it in a heartbeat, but they’ve chosen not to do that.

  3. Says TechCrunch, “The EVO? Good luck getting more than 4 hours of moderate usage out of this bad boy. It’s almost unfathomable how bad the battery is in this thing.”

    While Matt Buchanan at Gizmodo was generally impressed with the device, he found its size cumbersome (calling it the “Escalade of smartphones”) and the battery life to be “miserable.”

    Also, “If the Evo has a flaw, it’s battery life. While run time’s impressive as a wireless hotspot, it’s unoptimized in every other regard.”

    And, “Even with all of these tweaks though, Matt Burns was only able to keep his Evo going for 14.5 hours when doing nothing but acting as a fancy paperweight.” 14.5 hours… on standby.

    The Wall Street Journal: “In my tests, it didn’t last through a full day with 4G turned on. The carrier, in fact, is thinking of advising users to turn off the 4G network access when they don’t think they need it, to save battery life. This undercuts the whole idea of faster cellular speeds.”

    Heck, even HTC admits it. At the D8 conference HTC CEO, Peter Chou, conceded that battery life was a serious issue, and that “battery technology is an area where innovation is slow.”

    When nearly every major review says that there’s a problem, and when the CEO of HTC says there’s a problem…

    I suspect that there’s a problem.

  4. Kevin – re: subscribers. With the introduction of the EVO, the rise of costs for AT&T data plans, and Verizon laying the groundwork for a price increase when LTE deploys – it will be interesting to see how well Sprint does over the next several quarters.

  5. Whatever

    Might want to do your homework next time. The EVO 4G has the worst battery life in the current generation of smartphones – to the point where a lot of reviewers have recommended not to buy this phone. I’ve also heard that the Sense UI is sluggish at times. Maybe that’ll improve when they update to Froyo. Also 4G’s in limited markets right now and those test markets are already saturated. I’m betting most of this will go away in a few months. Sprint will roll out to new markets with 4G and upgrade the current markets bandwidth. HTC will probably release a software update which will improve battery life. But for now, I would wait and see.

    • I’m up to date on my homework, I assure you. ;)

      We have the EVO in-house and our hands-on full review (linked the post above) indicates the battery life isn’t as much an issue as some reviewers have mentioned. Will you drain the battery faster when using 4G – absolutely. But in our review — solidified by many commenters who have used the phone, not “also heard” about it — the battery life isn’t seen as problem in real world usage. Battery life varies by a person’s individual usage patterns, of course.

      You might want to read the comments in those other negative reviews as more of then refute the battery issues than agree with them.

      As far as Sense UI and being sluggish, I haven’t seen or heard much about that. I can tell you firsthand it works just fine on my Nexus One, which uses the same processor and even less memory.

      • I second that. There are bunch of Sprint specific apps I noticed using the advanced task killer. Just kill them and the Evo should be good for a day. As for the lag is concerned, I totally disagree. This phone is the fastest compared to any phone sans iPhone 4. Wait till the Froyo gets official release we are talking killer speed.