Vodafone Sells 50,000 iPhones On First Day

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Vodafone has been late to join the iPhone party, but is nevertheless “very pleased” with the response to the Apple device so far

Vodafone has said it is “very pleased” after it shipped 50,000 pre-ordered iPhones to its customers after the UK operator began selling the device on 14 January.

“We have had over 50,000 pre orders for the phone and they are being shipped out to our customers today,” a Vodafone spokeswoman told eWEEK Europe. “They are also available in our stores from today.”

“We are very pleased with the number of pre-orders, and we have had good indications from our stores, but we don’t have those figures yet,” the spokeswoman added.

Vodafone’s shipments of the iPhone for example is significantly more than the rumoured 20,000 sales of the Nexus One handset, that Google sold worldwide in its first week since its launch on 5 January.

Yet there is little doubt that Vodafone has been pretty late to join the iPhone party.

O2’s two year exclusivity deal for the Apple handset expired in November last year. Orange then became the first UK mobile operator (other than O2) to launch the iPhone on its network, followed quickly by Tesco.

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This meant that Vodafone missed out on the lucrative Christmas period after it confirmed it would only sell the device from 14 January. At the same time Vodafone also dashed analyst hopes of a price war over the popular handset, when it announced its own tariffs for the device.

So why was Vodafone so late in selling the device? “The date we launched the iPhone was the date we agreed with Apple,” said the spokeswoman.

Vodafone also took the opportunity to comment about the strength and robustness of its network to deal with the increasing data strain imposed by smartphones such as the iPhone.

This comes after the boss of O2 apologised over the Christmas break for embarrassing network failures in London, which he blamed on the bandwidth strain from the increasing use of smartphones such as the iPhone.

“We been investing in our network and we believe we offer our customers a great experience with the iPhone,” said the Vodafone spokeswoman. “We are quite confident that we have invested in the right place to make sure our network provides the best experience for iPhone users.”