By Carl HoweThe iPhone Buzz Index yesterday nearly equaled the peak we reached over the weekend, hitting 16,492 news stories. That's up nearly 200 over Sunday's value.
Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray has mirrored our prediction in estimating that Apple (AAPL) sold about half a million iPhones over the weekend. According to a report in the LA Times that has since been echoed by CNN Money and Reuters, 525,000 iPhones were sold on the first weekend. As we've noted previously, iPhone first weekend sales now represent the largest consumer electronics product launch in history as measured by dollar value. As of today, 59 of the 162 Apple Stores do not have iPhones available, having sold out over the weekend.
I got to play with friend and Forrester colleague Maribel Lopez's 8 GByte iPhone (click to see her blog for her impressions) over the weekend.
Some quick impressions from the limited time I had with the phone:
No manual is no problem. My 14-year-old son Robert picked up the phone and could use nearly every function immediately with no instructions. So could my 11-year-old David. The iPhone feels incredibly intuitive and obvious to use, which is a huge testament to its usability and the technology inside it. The iPhone processor is FAST. You need a fast processor to do gesture recognition; otherwise you miss touches and movement. But having a fast processor yields remarkable usability dividends as well, because the user never feels like they are waiting for the phone to respond. My son Robert has looked at some iPhone firmware that claims to have tags indicating that the iPhone's main processor is an ARM. My belief judging by its speed is that it is a Marvell XScale processor inside, which is one of the fastest and provides the maximum execution speed per watt of any of the ARM processors I know. According to iFixit, the processor is a Samsung ARM, not a Marvell XScale; Marvell makes the WiFi chips. So much for my hopes to get free samples from down the street. The iPhone experience is incredibly addictive. Nearly everyone who played with the iPhone for more that 10 seconds had a very hard time giving it up to someone else. The user experience just draws you in and makes you want to experiment and discover more and more functions. The ultimate testament to any technology is when it disappears and turns into play; by that standard, the iPhone is a smashing success.
Based upon my hour or two seeing the iPhone in action, I believe that Apple's requirement to have kiosks in every ATT and Apple Store to let users experience the iPhone for themselves was very smart. This is an experience sale akin to driving a BMW; people who take a test drive will want to buy the device. And the overall look of the device just screams taste and design. I fully expect the iPhone to be one of the first electronic devices to be placed in the Museum of Modern Art. It's that beautiful.
Most consumer electronics products disappoint end users by too hard to use, by not living up to their promises, or just by being too much of a burden for every day use. The iPhone is the opposite; it's a device that exceeds most expectations of what a phone should be and is a delight to use. And that, even more than the record $275 million that Apple reaped this weekend in iPhone sales, defines a consumer electronics success.
Disclosure: Author is long AAPL