John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Apple’s Biggest iPhone 5 Surprise: An Aggressive Rollout Schedule

Thanks to the uncharacteristically high number of leaks preceding it, there weren’t too many big surprises at Apple’s iPhone 5 reveal on Wednesday. The hardware design was largely as expected, as were many of its features. And since iOS 6 was already shown off earlier this summer at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, the software was as expected, as well. In the end, the biggest surprise to come out of Wednesday’s event was an operational one: The iPhone 5’s aggressive global rollout schedule.

Apple will begin taking preorders for the iPhone 5 this coming Friday, Sept. 14. A week later, on Sept. 21, it will begin selling the device in nine key markets, among them the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Japan and Hong Kong. The following week, it will bring the iPhone 5 to 22 more countries. And if all goes according to plan, the device will be available in 100 markets by year’s end. In comparison, iPhone 4S debuted in seven countries. Apple began shipping it to 22 more countries two weeks later. And by the end of 2011, it was available in 70 countries. When the iPhone 4 launched, it debuted in only five countries, and by the end of its first month at market it was still only in 18.

So Apple has given the iPhone 5 an aggressive rollout plan. And coming as it does after rumblings of supply chain contraints that some worried would limit iPhone 5 availability at launch, it’s something of a surprise.

“The schedule’s impressive,” ISI International analyst Brian Marshall told AllThingsD. “Apple must feel confident about its supply of in-cell display panels.”

Jefferies analyst Peter Misek took a similar view. “This timeline is way, way more aggressive than expected,” Misek told AllThingsD. “It should finally put to bed the unfounded view that this iPhone launch will be hugely capacity-constrained.”

More to the point, it should go a long way toward reassuring the market that Apple can meet consumer demand for the iPhone 5 and hit heady analyst estimates for the December quarter that range upwards of 45 million units. Estimates like those of Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, who’s looking for the iPhone 5 to chart some serious growth for Apple in the months ahead.

Said Munster in a Wednesday afternoon note, “While we previously expected December units to shift to September for a September launch, we are maintaining our 49 million December estimate as we believe Apple can still deliver on the 32% year-over-year growth that number assumes.”

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