The last time Apple (AAPL) simultaneously introduced two new iPhones, the 5S and 5C, the vendor sold 9 million units on a weekend launch. But now it’s outdone itself again, topping the prior high-water mark to reach 10 million iPhone 6 and 6 Plus smartphones sold in the first three days of sales.
While it’s difficult to tell if the initially lofty sales figures reflect actual iPhone 6 and 6 Plus demand or the fulfilling of existing supply—a far more conservative approach—the fact that Apple reached the 10 million level without China sales, where regulators have yet to approve the new smartphones, indicates demand may outstrip supply.
In addition to the United States, sales of the new iPhones kicked off Sept. 19 in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore and the United Kingdom, with an additional 20 countries slated to start selling the smartphones Sept. 26. By year’s end, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will be available in 115 countries, perhaps including China by then as well, which could make for a blockbuster holiday season for the vendor. We’ll have to wait to see on that one.
“Sales for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus exceeded our expectations for the launch weekend, and we couldn’t be happier,” said Tim Cook, Apple chief executive. “While our team managed the manufacturing ramp better than ever before, we could have sold many more iPhones with greater supply and we are working hard to fill orders as quickly as possible.”
Apple is said to have ordered up to 80 million units of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus from its suppliers for delivery by the end of the year. By comparison, Apple reportedly ordered about 60 million units for its iPhone 5S and 5C. Perhaps Apple’s thinking with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus is to ensure it doesn’t incur the product shortages it faced with the 5S, when buyers waited for weeks to receive a unit.
At this point, Apple isn’t breaking down the initial sales totals between the two smartphones but some early research suggested at least half of the buyers want the larger-screen iPhone 6 Plus.
While the rarified air of 10 million iPhones sold in three days must be rendering Apple’s top brass just a bit light-headed, what really matters is whether the iPhone 6 models will have the staying power of the 5S to sustain the vendor’s sales for a full year until the next model appears.
For example, it was the iPhone’s 17 percent jump in sales to 43.7 million units in Apple’s Q2 that backed the vendor’s highest-ever non-holiday quarter at $45.6 billion in sales and also carried it to a record June quarter of $37.4 billion in sales. Will the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus be able to duplicate or exceed those feats?
That’s likely to be the better measure of demand than the headline-catching first weekend of sales for Apple’s new iPhones.