Today in Apple history: iPhone comes to Verizon at last

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Four years of AT&T exclusivity on iPhone finally comes to an end.
Four years of AT&T exclusivity on iPhone finally comes to an end.
Photo: Jon Fingas/Flickr CC

February 3: Today in Apple history: iPhone comes to Verizon at last February 3, 2011: The iPhone finally arrives on Verizon Wireless, the United States’ largest carrier, ending nearly four years of exclusivity with AT&T.

The move comes as Apple faces pressure to expand its customer base as Android phones grow in popularity. The deal commences with the iPhone 4 available for preorder by Verizon’s 93 million customers.

Expanding iPhone availability beyond AT&T proved big news for Apple customers in the United States in 2011. According to research firm Gartner, phones running Android had passed iPhone in sales by that time. The previous October, Steve Jobs even made a rare conference call appearance to blast Android — describing Google’s mobile platform as fragmented.

Verizon iPhone becomes an instant hit

Tech observers viewed the Verizon deal as arriving at the perfect time. When preorders started on February 3, the Verizon iPhone became the fastest-selling debut in the wireless company’s history. This happened despite the fact that preorders took place in the middle of the night. Plus, only existing Verizon customers could buy them.

This was an exciting day,” said Dan Mead, president and chief executive officer for Verizon Wireless. “In just our first two hours, we had already sold more phones than any first-day launch in our history. And, when you consider these initial orders were placed between the hours of 3 a.m. and 5 a.m., it is an incredible success story. It is gratifying to know that our customers responded so enthusiastically to this exclusive offer — designed to reward them for their loyalty.”

Verizon and Apple halted preorders a little over 17 hours after they started due to the massive popularity of the iPhone. General availability of the Verizon iPhone followed a week later on February 10. The phone sold directly through Apple and Verizon, as well as at Best Buy and certain Walmart stores.

Were you an early Verizon iPhone user? Leave your comments below.