It looks like Verizon ( VZ) has a rip-snorting success on its hands with the debut of its BlackBerry Tour from Research In Motion ( RIMM). In the first 24 hours, Verizon and retail outlets sold between 275,000 and 300,000 Tours, according to analysts. Given the lack of media hoopla and the absence of live blogging from the waiting lines, the big debut numbers suggest that Verizon and soon Sprint ( S) will have a blockbuster phone for the summer and into the holidays.
The Tour debut compares well to Apple's ( AAPL) original iPhone, which sold roughly the same amount on its first weekend in 2007. That start was notably slower than the 1 million target Apple expected and then eventually hit on the 74th days after its launch.
The iPhone, now in its third year, has become an iconic device. That leadership position in the smartphone market was confirmed last month when Apple iPhone 3G S reached the 1 million milestone on the first weekend, within 72 hours of its arrival at AT&T ( T). The BlackBerry Tour is the first major RIM phone for Verizon since the popular and controversial BlackBerry Storm rolled in last year. The Tour is an upgrade to a 2-year old BlackBerry world phone. Analysts say the Tour is outselling the popular BlackBerry Curve by three to one. Verizon has been somewhat in the shadows as rivals AT&T and Sprint rolled out new phones like the iPhone "S" and the Palm ( PALM) Pre, respectively. Smartphones are the fastest growing segment of the mobile phone industry and Verizon has been lagging in the blockbuster category.
The roaring debut of Tour is good news for RIM, which faces an onslaught of competition in smartphone operating systems from the likes of Palm, Google ( GOOG) Android and Apple.
RIM fans, particularly business users addicted to the email service, may be more apt to upgrade to a new BlackBerry rather than switch to a different system. The Tour should help temporarily stem the flow of subscribers leaving Verizon.