49.5 million iPhones sold during December quarter, say analysts

49.5 million iPhones sold during December quarter, say analysts

Summary: Analyst figures suggest Apple may have sold as many as 43-63 million iPhones during the lucrative December holiday quarter. Analysts weigh in with their thoughts and estimates.

TOPICS: iPhone, Apple
Apple's iPhone 5, released in September, would have had a significant positive impact on the company's sales figures, thanks to Apple's break into mainland China. Credit: CNET

Apple may have sold anywhere between 43 million and 63 million iPhones during the December quarter. 

The wide-range figure was published by Fortune editor Philip Elmer DeWitt, who compiled the average and median estimates from 56 analysts, to determine what kind of quarter it was for the Cupertino, Calif.-based technology giant.

The range is a bit wide, but the average figure across the dozens of analysts pegs in at 52.3 million, or a median estimate of 49.5 million -- which still shows an increase on the 47.6 million sold during the September quarter, and a massive increase on the 37 million sold on the same quarter in 2011.

And why does it matter? Considering in light of an upcoming launch of BlackBerry 10 phones, a distinct lack of Android devices in the enterprise thanks to the lacking back-end management features on offer, and relatively poor-to-modest overall sales figures for Windows Phone -- not only does the iPhone rule the roost in the consumer market, but also it's beginning to have a considerably strong impact on the enterprise market.

The figures aren't perfect -- we will have to wait until Apple's first quarter earnings on January 23 -- because there was one extra week in 2012, the iPhone 5 was launched a month earlier than the iPhone 4S, and the iPhone 5 was rolled out in China -- where the numbers are far greater than any other region -- far quicker than previous devices. 

Wells Fargo analyst Maynard Um said:

AT&T announced [on Tuesday] that it has set another Q4 record selling 10 million smartphones (up 6.4 percent year on year) in Q4 2012. This compares to 9.4 million sold in Q4 2011 (the company's previous record). In addition, the company noted that Android and Apple phones had their "best-ever quarterly sales." [...] This announcement, coupled with our recent checks, provides us with additional comfort in our December quarter iPhone estimate of 46 million.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, who only today lowered his price estimates on Apple, followed along similar lines of logic:

We believe there are a few recent relevant data points around iPhone that are net inline with our 45 million unit estimate for December [...] Third, Apple reported 500 million active iTunes accounts yesterday, up from 435 million in mid-September, which we believe points to 50 million new accounts in December. [...] We are expecting 21 percent year-on-year iPhone growth in December.  

Munster said that while Apple will likely see an increase in iPhone sales by 45 million, overall iOS devices will reach 75-80 million during the December sales period.

Topics: iPhone, Apple

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  • Wow!

    If this happens that would be outstanding.

    “Munster said that while Apple will likely see an increase in iPhone sales by 45 million, overall iOS devices will reach 75-80 million during the December sales period.”
  • That Sure Is An Awful Lot Of Hockey Pucks!

    • This is ZDNET

      The Sports section is over on CBS.
    • You need a Surface

      On which to use a hockey puck.
  • No reason not to believe it

    Kudos to apple.

    Remember folks, the idea of any business is not to sell the best products on the market but to make the most money. apple takes both those points to the extreme. They don't sell the best products by far but they sure do make the most money. This is fantastic for apple executives who must be cheering quite loudly.
    • Spot on once again toddy!

      MS is clearly the quality winner. And we proved by the hundreds we sold over the same time frame!

      Call Loverock, we are getting our #$%^#$ kicked here...
      Hardrock Davidson
  • Wow

    That is great for Apple. I never really imagine that they would keep selling that much after the bit disappointing iPhone 5…well disappointing in respects that nothing new that is already in the market.

    With that much money I wonder what could Apple be doing as far bring out a entirely new product. All they have been doing in the last few years is update/upgrade their iOS products. The MAC OS still has not been able to take ground since early 1990s.

    What is Apple up to? Besides enjoying life to the fullest with all that money.
    • Will be interesting to see what apple does with their PCs

      apple has been calling for the death of the PC for quite some time. They killed their mac server. They've abandoned the mac pro. They dumped the base macbook. iwork hasn't been updated in 3 years.

      It will be interesting to see if apple simply abandons their PC customer base. After all, like you said, there has yet to be a single mac os that has been able to capture any ground and now sales are falling.

      With all this talk about apple tv, it wouldn't surprise me to see apple decide that they want the ipad / iphone to be the computer, your tv to be your external monitor, and if people want a truck (PC) then you can go elsewhere. apple wouldn't abandon existing customers, would they? Oh yeah, I forgot, they do it all the time when they believe that their existing customers are asking for "yesterday's" tech like optical drives, PPC, firewire, servers, etc.

      The good news is that if your organization uses os x and apple leaves the PC market, you can simply install os x on some other manufacturer's hardware.

      Oops. You can't. I would NOT like to be a company that used os x right now. All the signs point to you going through a major change in the next couple years.
    • What is Apple up to?

      Well lares3k, Apple is currently working on their new phone called the 'Sochi'. It will possess exceedingly much roundness and will be débuted at centre ice for the ceremonial faceoff of the ice-hockey tournament at the 2014 Olympics in Russia.

      Now back to the studio where our very own toddbottom7 is going to perform his new hit dance "The Cloggedbottom Breakdown"

      Stay tuned for more!
      • Is that Safal Soch Ka Safal Jadoo?

  • Why is this news?

    Apple sells a lot of iOS devices. Why does ZDNet feel the need to report this?
    • Same reason...

      ...it reports Windows sales figures (at least to OEMs). Apparently, it's considered news.
      John L. Ries
    • IT

      ZDNetis a business technology news website published by CBS Interactive, along with TechRepublic and SmartPlanet. The brand was founded on April 1, 1991 as a general interest technology portal from Ziff Davis and evolved into an enterprise IT-focused online publication owned by CNET Networks.
  • Jeez

    Some guy figures out how many were sold by "compiled the average and median estimates from 56 analysts". Jeez. And how did those 56 analysts/mirrorball-specialists get their figures. Bring this story to a statistician and they would laugh for weeks!
    Oh. iTunes isn't just for the iPhone. Ever though that iTune installations were also for iPads, iPods and all the other gadgets Apple sell?
    "the iPhone 5 was rolled out in China -- where the numbers are far greater than any other region" except China is known to be more of an Android leaning country.