There's little doubt that Verizon Wireless has an instant hit on its hands with the Apple iPhone 4, which the U.S. carrier starts selling on February 10. But how many millions of iPhones will Verizon sell in 2011? According to one analyst, sales could approach a jaw-dropping 25 million.
As reported by All Things Digital's John Paczkowski, R.W. Baird & Co. analyst William Power estimates that Verizon could sell 23.8 million iPhones to its subscribers this year. That figure, combined with the 5.6 percent of AT&T iPhone users who, Baird says, will switch to Verizon in 2011, and you've got a sales number that approaches 25 million-an estimate more than twice that of the rosiest predictions ( 9 to 12 million) from other analysts.
Baird cautions, however, that his estimate is a "directional number" rather than a forecast, adding that it's unclear whether Apple could deliver that many iPhones.
Another variable is how Verizon customers will react to the array of hidden fees associated with the carrier's service plans, including wireless tethering ($20 for 2 GB, and $20 for each additional GB) and visual voicemail ($2.99 per month for other Verizon phones, but unknown at this time for the iPhone).
There's also the question of whether Verizon's service will be significantly better than AT&T's--a question that won't be resolved until millions of iPhone users are putting Verizon's network through its paces on a daily basis.