Apr 26 AT 12:41 PM Russell Holly 28 Comments

Thunderbolt sales top iPhone 4 on Verizon: a look at why

Yes, I am aware that the information that is responsible for me once again putting my fingers to the keyboard is little more than anecdotal evidence. Apparently, this analyst called a whole bunch of Verizon stores and asked which phone sold best. The phrase “Why, the Thunderbolt is outselling everything we’ve got!” or some variance thereof was uttered enough times that this analyst published the information, sharing that the Thunderbolt was out-pacing the iPhone 4 in terms of day-to-day sales. Before you scuttle down to the comments to argue, call me names, or do some other form of oxygen wasting activity, understand that I am addressing the possibility that those figures might be accurate, and why.

See, the Thunderbolt is a good phone. Coupled with LTE, it’s capable of doing really amazing things. It does, as our own Anthony Domanico so graciously put it, have pretty awful battery life. There’ve been other complaints specked across the reputation of Big Red’s first LTE phone, but the general consensus is that the phone is good. So, good enough to outsell what was supposed to be such a gamechanger? Here’s why I think it happened.


Plain and simple, it’s a smartphone on a network that outpaces most DSL and cable internet providers. Verizon’s 700MHz spectrum powered LTE network is the perfect combination of blazing speed and building penetration, and the network is growing to include more and more cities all the time. Anyone who is in an LTE area and is due for a smartphone upgrade is not likely to walk out of the store without a Thunderbolt, but I wonder if that’s because of Verizon’s…

Sales Reps

Word on the street is that Verizon doesn’t pay real well for the iPhone. Rumors of payouts as low as $5 per activation for customers trying to buy an iPhone would certainly deter any sales rep from offering it up, especially when an activation for an HTC Thunderbolt would get you $50-60 an activation. Is the low payout a result of all the rear-kissing that was necessary to get the phone on their network in the first place? No one knows for sure, but it’s pretty easy to see why a sales rep, even one whose not an Android fan, would push customers away from the iPhone.

SenseUI + Android 2.2 = obvious choice

There’s no denying that HTC’s consistent development of the SenseUI has lead to a really impressive user experience. If you disagree, that’s the great thing about Android, you can change it! For the “average consumer” however, SenseUI offers up an experience that no other manufacturer or developer has really been able to match. Walking into a store and seeing a phone that tells you the weather just by animating it across the screen has generated more “Wow!”‘s than any phone I’ve seen in recent memory. Plus, Android really has matured to allow the average user to be able to navigate and explore with ease, and the Flash browser doesn’t hurt either.

In many ways, this situation illustrates the very thing we’ve seen time after time with ComScore reports and Google Earning statements; Android is making huge advances, and drowning everyone else out in the process. It’s just nice to be able to see little victories like this one pop up for the little green guy, so savor it!

I write things.

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  • http://Website O.J. Simpson, live statement from jail

    Because they cant afford the superior iPhone 4.
    Thunderbolt(d) looks ugly, too.

    • http://Website joe

      If you want to succeed at trolling you need to be a bit more leading and subtle :)

    • http://Website Olivia

      >>Because they cant afford the superior iPhone 4.
      Thunderbolt(d) looks ugly, too.>>

      I think its quite disgusting to see prisoners browsing the internet.
      Is this on Wi-Fi, O.J.??? Are you on livestream???

    • http://Website Anonymous

      Aww, poor iPhone can’t handle the superiority of Android.

      That must really suck for you people with iPhone’s. X-D

  • http://Website Ben

    Wow OJ. Thanks for your insightful comments. Your facts are presented with such astounding clarity. And thank you for further illustrating the mindset of iPhone fanboyism.

  • http://Website Jgalan14

    Idk I don’t like thunderbolt, is all hardware and I know htc and Verizon are going to screw people over with updates like the Evo now, if you want a device the last 2 years I would go with the iPhone , personnel choice , I love android phones but I hate waiting for updates

    • http://Website Ben

      “Idk I don’t like thunderbolt,”
      All commas and no other punctuation. Nice. Still in Jr High?
      “personnel choice ” – Is this the personnel in your company/school faculty? Perhaps you meant personal instead of personnel.
      Then you say, “I would go with the iPhone” but follow it right up with, “but I hate waiting for updates”
      You probably don’t even realize how those two statements together not only label you as an iPhone apologist, but also gives you NO credibility whatsoever.
      (Yes I know I’m being a grammar nazi. Flame on!)

    • http://Website Ratmuscle

      You are a moron. What is SO important about getting an update? If you have an evo, you already have a great version of android. If you don’t like it…ROOT YOUR PHONE…the thunder bolt is the best phone out there. The only problem with it is the battery life. Oh well…deal with it. My evo’s battery life isn’t the greatest but the more advanced phones get, the more demand on energy the phones will have. Deal with it…if you and america and society are demanding More AND More…then something has to give. Get an iphone if you think an update is more important. If not, enjoy your phone.

      • http://Website kev

        But still, getting an update is fun. Graphical changes, bug fixes, that android version number, and more features etc….

        • http://Website Ratmuscle

          I know…i understand. I rooted my phone a while back and love flashing all kinds of roms. Miui, cm7, elite, etc. Playing with the different roms with features is a lot of fun. But you can’t get mad or blame companies for trying to make money.

      • http://Website Aaron

        Re: battery life. I’m not willing to forgive bad battery life. At this point, the causes of low battery life are well understood, and it would be trivial for vendors to put more control in easy-to-use user interfaces that limit CPU scaling, turn off extra networking features and ramp down the amount of GPS usage. These are trivial examples of how a phone can control its battery life, and yet the tools that exist to manage these features are cumbersome and fraught with unintended consequences on every Android phone I’ve used.

        For example, when mapping, I’d like the phone to briefly power up WiFi, sample the local SSIDs and use that data for triangulation as it would normally do when WiFi is enabled by default. This aids better results, but does not require constant usage of WiFi in what I like to call “you used to have a battery” mode.

        Anyway, not arguing that Android is not a great platform, just saying that it has its deep flaws, just like every other platform.

  • uzunoff

    I am no fan of an IPhone in any way. I’ve been happy with my N1 for almost a year and a half.
    One thing that really bothers me is the terrible battery life on the Thunderbolt. I have friends that were getting about 4 hours of battery on LTE. That’s just terrible.
    They quickly switched to the G2X, as they should have done in the first place.

  • http://Website Name required

    “Superior iPhone 4″. Hysterical. HOW is that phone superior? Apple is so behind the curve its laughable. That said , millions of ppl will continue to buy it. Educate yourself and stop this ignorance. Then go out and buy a real multitasking phone.

  • http://lettersfromdave.wordpress.com daveloft

    Thunderbolt new, iPhone 4 old, end of story.

  • http://Website Frank

    Lol @ can’t afford the iphone. Last I checked the Thunderbolt costs $50 more :)

  • http://Website Ryan

    Thunderbolt is great and all, but I think I am going to hold off on upgrading from my Droid 2 until HTC comes out with a 3.7 inch, keyboard packing, 4G, Dual Core phone.

    So… Never? We shall see. I can at least hold out hope till Christmas.

  • http://Website ncb1397

    The problem with this post is that Verizon already released their numbers for the 1st quarter where the iPhone was on sale for 2 months and the Thunderbolt was on sale for 2 weeks.

    Their numbers
    iPhone 4:2.2 million

    Normalizing for the sales period differential, the rate of sales per week is.
    iPhone 4: 550,000
    Thunderbolt: 260,000


  • http://Website ncb1397

    Opps, I normalized the rate to a two week period. 1 Week sales are…
    iPhone 4: 275,000
    Thunderbolt: 130,000

    • http://Website Don

      I see your point and that raises a question. How many of those were previous iPhone owners who jumped from AT&Teabag? I personally know a few who did.

  • http://Website Joe

    The best part is that the iPhone 5, which will be released this fall, still won’t have LTE!!!

    It has already been confirmed by Verizon, and when biased Cnet tried to back up Apple on this, their exude was that LTE would require a total “redesign.”

    • http://Website Joe

      Sorry, I meant to say “excuse” instead of “excude.”

      Note: this is another reason why this website desperately needs to switch the comment system to Disqus.

  • Aspeds2989

    Damn Russell.. Don’t let the “haters” get to you. I have definitely noticed a tremendous amount of them questioning your credibility and writing on pretty much all of your articles (I see you’re addressing that in your introduction), but f*** ‘em. Your credibility is as good as androidandme’s, and if a commenter doesn’t think you have any credibility with what you mention in articles, that’s simply taking a shot at the site’s credibility.. However, they obviously have nothing better to do than still come here, which pretty much speaks for itself.

    Anyways, interesting bit on the sales rep. I almost forgot a lot of their pay was based commission and that could be a factor in what phone they recommend.

  • http://jeftek.com Jef

    IOS is getting a bit long in the tooth, and people are looking to see what else is out there. We are currently in a lull since Verizon has last years iPhone4, and people may not want to pay a premium for left overs.

    iPhone5 later this year will let us see where the real attention is. If Android keeps whipping iPhones butt then, then we can see where the public is going with their dollars.

  • http://Website Richard Yarrell

    Honestly, I give credit to the Htc Thunderbolt yes much better than any silly iphone that’s for sure. But I also must say the thunderbolt is old news and truthfully should have been out in September or November of last year not March of 2011. The specs do not warrant anyone to purchase this device today regardless or that sill LTE stuff. Verizon is full of it and so is there LTE service just draining the batteries of all there LTE enabled devices ie thunderdud and droid charge…There is no way apple will allow the iphone5 to be abused in this manner with this LTE draining business apple is much smarter than that. So now you have an iphone 5 that will appear in september with a dualcore A5 chip with a larger screen prbably 3.7 and 8 megipixel camera..Not bad for apple…Nothing more can be done with the thunderbolt out side of gingerbread nothing else will come to that device…

  • http://www.papadigitals.com/advanced_search_result.html?keywords=Thunderbolt rita

    Housing case and lcd screen for HTC Thunderbolt 4G. http://www.papadigitals.com/advanced_search_result.html?keywords=Thunderbolt. EXCELLENT!

  • http://Website sean

    heres some commission insight. Nobody gets paid by device. Its just like cpus and game consoles. Vzw wants data pack subscriptions and new lines of service. Even the indirect dealerships get paid out on new contracts and not dependant on device. Vzw sales reps are honestly motovated to help pick the right device to make custs happy because there are negative incentives for returns and exchanges. Nobody is pushing one product or another for higher payout. Thats just false info.

    • http://Website Mightytomahawk

      Well I’m not sure how the Verizon commission structure works but I can honestly say that I work for an authorized retailer for AT&T and the commission on an iPhone sale is much less than $5 for us. I also believe that Android is superior due to the fact that although that are many similarities the Android operating system is more options to personalize, they are insurable at a reasonable cost, and as a rep we are allowed to trouble shoot the phone without sending our customers on an hour drive to an apple store…convenience wins out.

  • http://Website motoxer913

    Thunderbolt is a nice version 1 product but I actually agree with Apple on this one…I’ll wait for LTE chipsets to mature before going to an LTE phone….and also LTE is not even available where I live *yet* which makes the point moot. But when so many people are reporting 4-6 hour battery life when using LTE that shows you how bleeding edge the phone is with a version 1 LTE chipset. Once the LTE chipset improves and we see normal battery life out of LTE phones then I’ll consider the switch. Until then I find Sprint and T-Mo more appealing..especially the G2x Tegra2.