Ratchet Up Those iPhone Sales Estimates

Published on October 11, 2011
by John Paczkowski

One million first-day iPhone 4S preorders was just the beginning.

Early Monday morning, Apple announced that preorders of the iPhone 4S topped one million in the device’s first 24 hours of availability, easily surpassing the previous record of 600,000 for the iPhone 4.

That’s more than 67 percent year-over-year growth. (Caveat: Order and approval system malfunctions may have prevented Apple from selling as many iPhone 4s as it might have otherwise). Which is unprecedented. And while it’s obviously too early to say definitively, it’s already starting to look like fourth-quarter iPhone estimates are too conservative. According to analysts, demand for the 4S has essentially been unceasing since preorders began.

“Our conversations with industry contacts suggest that demand has not waned following the initial surge of preorders,” says J.P. Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz. “There has been no tail-off in order activity with Apple now listing shipment wait times of 1-2 weeks on its Web site for all three SKUs of the iPhone 4S.”

In other words, the same scenario we’ve seen with past iPhone launches is unfolding once again. Only this year it promises to be a few orders of magnitude larger. Driving sales volume this year are not only a number of new carriers, including Sprint and KDDI, but the free-with-contract iPhone 3GS and $99 iPhone 4, which are sure to expand the addressable market for the device, particularly in countries like China. Says Moskowitz, “In our view, the new product momentum is just getting started.”

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