Even as industry sources leak the news that 3 million iPhones will be ready for sale at launch, doubts are starting to surface that the iPhone will be as popular as it is widely expected to be.
Two sources, speaking to Peter Burrows at Business Week, revealed that Apple plans to have 3 million iPhones ready to sell in the US on June 29. Both Apple and US distributor AT&T have received more than 1 million iPhone-related inquiries each.
According to Burrow, analysts are predicting the Apple will sell around 3 million units this year (Apple hopes to sell 5 million) and 10 to 12 million in 2008 (Apple hopes to sell 15 million).
However, analysts, such as Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster, predict that iPhone sales will really start making headway in 2009 when it’s likely that Apple will have launched low-cost iPhone variants, made deals with carriers to offer high-speed Internet access, as well as moved into overseas markets. Munster predicts iPhone sales of more than 40 million in 2009.
However, even as Burrows paints an upbeat picture of iPhone prospects in his article, he also raises some doubts:
“And with its touch-screen keyboard, powerful battery-sapping processors, and a panoply of new applications, the iPhone is far more complex than the iPod. Glitches could lead to costly recalls and returns if buyers find the phone buggy or confusing.”
These doubts are echoed by iPhone-skeptic John Dvorak, who believes the iPhone will be will be popular in the short-term, but then go out of fashion. He’s not convinced that Apple can jump into the “deep end of the mobile-phone swimming pool without knowing how to swim”.
Dvorak also predicts that there will be inevitable iPhone production flaws, that he hopes won’t be catastrophic.
More worryingly, an anonymous ”industry insider” told Dvorak that the iPhone keyboard is way too difficult to use.
“The keyboard is a disaster, and people are going to return the phone in droves. I’m guessing 20% will go back,” the source told Dvorak.
Never has the world seen a gadget as anticipated as the iPhone; it’s almost gotten to the point where everyone believes that the iPhone will be a major success. At the same time, the iPhone design is a radical departure from conventional mobile phones — a design that obviously has yet to be proven. This could of course make the iPhone a smash hit, or be the root of its downfall.