AT&T Inc wiped some of the glow off Apple Inc's iPhone, releasing numbers that showed fewer people than expected signed up for service in the first two days of the multimedia cellphone's release. Apple shares fell more than 6 percent on Tuesday.
AT&T -- the iPhone's exclusive carrier -- said on Tuesday it activated 146,000 iPhones on June 29 and 30, a number that disappointed investors following some analyst forecasts that Apple would sell 500,000 or more iPhones in its first weekend.
The news interrupted a steady rise in Apple's stock price that started with the iPhone's release. The 18 percent surge generated US$18 billion in shareholder wealth.
On Tuesday, Apple shares fell US$8.81, or more than 6 percent, to US$134.89, wiping out more than US$7 billion of Apple's market value.
Apple was expected to release more information on the iPhone's sales in its third-quarter earnings report yesterday. The company has been tight-lipped about its near-term sales forecasts, saying only that it hopes to sell 10 million worldwide by next year.
Decline in demand
Also weighing on Apple's stock on Tuesday was a report from CIBC World Markets that said demand for the iPhone has experienced a "significant decline" in the past 10 days, a slowdown driven in part by dissatisfaction with the slow data transfer speeds on AT&T's network.
CIBC used store visits and a survey of iPhone buyers to reach its conclusions.
CIBC said it expected Apple and AT&T to boost their marketing push for the iPhone, and the companies could introduce a new model in November -- earlier than expected -- that operates on a faster network. The two models now available cost US$499 and US$599.
Apple spokesman Steve Dowling declined to comment.
Shaw Wu, an analyst with American Technology Research, said the little information Apple was likely to release yesterday would be closely watched by investors.
Analysts are expecting Apple to continue its strong profit growth.
A survey by Thomson Financial showed that Apple is expected to earn US$0.72 a share on US$5.29 billion in revenue for the third quarter.
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