iPhone 5 a Hit Based on Key “Line Length” Metric

Published on September 21, 2012
by John Paczkowski

The lines to purchase one of Apple’s new iPhone 5s in certain major U.S. cities are longer than they have been for any other iPhone launch.

That’s the word from Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, whose team surveyed lines outside Apple Stores in New York, Boston and Minneapolis, and found them to be, on average, 83 percent longer than those for the iPhone 4S last year. Based on the size of those launch day crowds, and Apple’s announcement Monday that it racked up 2 million preorders for the iPhone 5 in 24 hours, Munster predicts the company will sell 49 million iPhones in the December quarter, barring any supply constraints.

“We have counted iPhone launch day lines at every launch since the iPhone 3G in 2008,” Munster said in a note to clients. “We believe that based on our count of 775 customers in line for the iPhone 5 at the flagship 5th Avenue store, demand for the iPhone 5 is higher than any previous launch. We believe the line for the iPhone 5 was 70 percent greater than the line for the iPhone 4S despite Apple taking 2x as many online preorders. … Given the strength of the line for the iPhone 5, we are incrementally more confident in Apple’s ability to sell 8 million phones in the launch weekend.”

So who’s buying them? Previous iPhone owners, mostly. Wells Fargo analyst Maynard Um says that among the customers his team surveyed at Apple Stores in New York City, 32 percent were upgrading from iPhone 4S, 31 percent from iPhone 4 and 8 percent from the iPhone 3GS. Of the remainder, 8 percent were switching from BlackBerry, 7 percent from a Samsung device, 7 percent from an HTC device and 5 percent from “other.”

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