Apple's iPhone 5 launch weekend: 8 million units or bust?

Apple's iPhone 5 launch weekend: 8 million units or bust?

Summary: The reviews for Apple's iPhone 5 are glowing and now it's time for those launch weekend guesstimates. Anywhere from 6 million to 10 million units will move between Friday's launch and Monday, one analyst says.

Credit: CNET

The reviews for iPhone 5 are in and the consensus view is that Apple's flagship device is a must have upgrade. As the iPhone 5 launches on Friday the big question is whether Apple will sell 8 million or more devices launch weekend.

According to CNET, which gave the iPhone high marks along with other reviewers:

The iPhone 5 is the iPhone we've wanted since 2010, adding long-overdue upgrades like a larger screen and faster 4G LTE in a razor-sharp new design. This is the iPhone, rebooted.

Fair enough. Now let's translate those glowing reviews into real units and dollars.

More: iPhone 5 16GB costs an estimated $207 to build | 5 reasons I'm passing on the iPhone 5 | First round of iPhone 5 reviews hit the Web | All iPhone coverage | A unique upgrade cycle

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster---among the biggest Apple bulls on Wall Street---said in a research note:

We believe that the reported 2 million iPhone 5 pre-order unit number suggests that Apple could sell 6-10 million phones in the launch weekend. We believe Apple will issue a press release on Monday September 24th about launch weekend sales. The mid-point of our weekend sales total would suggest 100% y/y growth from the iPhone 4S launch. We note that iPhone 4S grew 135% y/y in its launch weekend compared to the iPhone 4. We believe that some investors may have slight concerns regarding Apple's ability to sell 6-10 million phones in the launch weekend given the suggested phone sales per hour at retail given the numbers. While we acknowledge the concern, we remain confident that between continued online pre-orders and expanded retail and country distribution, Apple will be able to deliver on the 6-10 million unit weekend sales expectation.

Take the midpoint of Munster's projections and you get to 8 million units. Munster's "worst case launch figure" is 6 million.




The wild card here will be supply. Apple's supply chain hums, but shortages are likely.

Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes said:

Apple introduced the new iPhone 5 and we were impressed with the pace of the rollout given concerns around production shortages. Apple aims to distribute the iPhone 5 through 240 carriers worldwide by year-end, making it the fastest iPhone launch yet. Our iPhone unit estimates for the September quarter are unchanged at 23.43 million in case Apple faces product stock outs. However, we estimate iPhone unit sales will surge to 45.21 million, up 22.0% y/y and 93% q/q in the December quarter (F1Q13). We believe production plans call for about 50 million iPhone 5 units alone in the December quarter, not including older models and expect strong sales to continue through the New Year. The main driver of iPhone sales momentum into mid-calendar 2013 could be China, where Apple needs to strike a deal with China Mobile for the first time.


Topics: Smartphones, Apple, iPhone, Mobility

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Propaganda...

    All these 'sales record broken' is nothing but marketing propaganda...
    • "Propaganda: Chiefly information of a biased or misleading nature..."

      What we're looking at here is an estimate based on history and established fact--by no means misleading except to those who wish to believe it is misleading. Given the established fact that last year's 3-day growth was more than double the previous year's and that this years pre-order numbers are already double last year's pre-order numbers, it becomes only logical that the 3-day sales should double last year's numbers as well.

      Again, hardly misleading.
      • biased is still in the picture though

        What you are saying is that the communist propaganda in USSR was really just something based on history and established fact. The definition of "chiefly", "biased", and "nature" makes the definition "propaganda" biased
      • Numbers not misleading but the text is

        Such as:

        "The reviews for iPhone 5 are in and the consensus view is that Apple's flagship device is a must have upgrade. "

        With all the reviews I have read, I would hardly say that "must have upgrade" is a consensus. In fact, while most reviews say its a great phone, they also say it is evolutionary (not saying that's a bad thing) and that there is no "killer feature" that would cause someone to run out and buy one immediately.

        So its an example of using accurate numbers to make a bogus point. And that is the nature of propaganda. It typically starts with accurate information but then spins it in a way that makes the author's point. In this case, he is using sales numbers to prove what a "consensus of the reviews" say when those two things are unrelated.
        • Ok, reducing it to numbers...

          How many of the reviews listed said "must have" compared to those who said, "meh"? If more than half said, "must have", then the consensus must be that it's a "must have".

          That said, I will agree with many of them that if you already have a 4S then maybe the 5 isn't so attractive, but for anyone with a 4 or older, then I would certainly agree that the stack of hardware improvements alone make it worthwhile.
    • It might hurt your precious feelings but it's actually fact

      • It might hurt yours too but

        Android as a whole still outsells the iPhone. Think about it, yep.
        • Think about it, yep.

          ((( "Android as a whole still outsells the iPhone." )))

          OK , but what does that get you, exactly? There are more apps available for iOS, there are more apps purchased by iOS users, there is more money being made by developers of iOS apps, there are more peripherals available for iOS devices, there is more web traffic generated by iOS devices, there are more ads served to iOS users, and Apple is making almost four times as much money from the iPhone as every Android maker combined. From every vantage point other than sheer volume, iOS is the more desirable operating system.
        • Sorry to disappoint you but

          I am not a small minded hater or an Apple fanboy. I use and prefer Apple products in many cases but that doesn't blind me from reality. I know that Android holds the highest market share and guess what, doesn't bother or even affect me in any way. Reality is that there are great phones running iOS, Android and WP yet not one of those is the best fit for everyone, there is no one size fits all in OSes or devices. Of course I see that we have somebody once again wanting to compare OSes as a whole yet it's all of Android against just the iPhone, not all of iOS.
        • "Android as a whole still outsells the iPhone."

          Yup. On price alone Android outsells the iPhone--not for any other reason.

          Were it not for all those 2-4-1 sales, those BOGO sales, those "Get 2 for $45 each" sales, quite honestly Android wouldn't be selling nearly as many smartphones as they do. Popularity of phones like the Galaxy SIII are among the exceptions, not the rule. Even then it's popular more because of the quality than its so-vaunted features compared to the other Android phones. Eliminate all those sub-$100 phones (and yes, I do include the older iPhones) and you would find Android running pretty much neck and neck with the iPhone, not so far ahead.

          Go ahead. Work it out for yourself. Even Samsung's big sales numbers are enhanced by massive el-cheapo-product shipments.
  • Is that really glowing?

    "The iPhone 5 is the iPhone we've wanted since 2010..." - cnet

    So they just released a two year old phone...

    I guess this is glowing because die hard fans are willing to look beyond that. Of course, the iPhone reviews in 2010 and 2011 were also telling people they had to upgrade, so go figure.

    Why doesn't anyone just come out and say the truth- millions of these would sell no matter what because that many people just love Apple products? At this point in time, early adapters (from 2007/8) are probably so far tangled in the ecosystem that the cost to switch platforms at this point is so great it would literally take releasing a phone matching the specs from a previous version to warrant switching. Otherwise, upgrading the CPU/GPU/RAM and maybe the camera a little bit is all that's really necessary for them to have a successful opening weekend.
    • "these would sell because that many people just love Apple products"

      Then Apple has to be doing something right.

      For your previous statement to be true as well as "they just released a two year old phone" it's actually damning of everyone else. Basically, you're saying that more people like Apple's version of a 2 year-old phone than any other manufacturer's version of a new phone. Sounds like the problem is everyone else.
      • Because

        the problem couldn't possibly be "followers of fashion" now could it? You do realise people wear what they are told to wear, drink what they are told to drink, watch what they are told to watch, listen to music repeated again and again on tv and radio, then buy whatever they are being told to buy.

        The iPhone is as garbage now as the day it first launched. I know people who own iPhones that cannot use them and dislike them, but keep it anyway. I know people who bought iPads and have not once switched it on. People are paying big money for 1st generation AppleTV's on ebay right now, running not Apples crud, but XBMC. You can run XBMC on a myriad of set-top devices, some of them so small that they are practically invisible to the naked eye, so WHY would anyone CHOOSE an underpowered 5/6 year old SD AppleTV for 180 quid/dollars/whatever? There is no rational reason except the fruit stamped on top of it.

        The fact you can try to spin the launch of a phone with 2 year old tech at todays price point, in your own head, demonstrates how very much the problem lies with you.
        • Interesting that you should say that...

          Since there are vastly more Android phone commercials on radio and television than there are Apple iPhone/iPad commercials.

          Exactly who are the sheep again?
          • DW has a point/s

            Android is all about choice. Choosing which manufacturer and model, all the different features that you can choose from to best fit your usage. Which is exactly like sheep. All the time round here, you see sheep looking up food reviews on the internet and choosing which wool colour to go with this season (white or black mainly).

            Is it sheep you're thinking of DW?
            Little Old Man
    • is it glowing

      I'm an Android user, and I'm switching. Unlike your previous summation.
      • Me Too !

        Switching from Samsung Charge and Blackberry (employer supplied). I've had Android since it was available. No big deal. A little better than my Blackberry.
    • "... because that many people just love Apple products..."

      You do realize this number keeps growing year after year. If we were to believe your analysis, there should only be about 700,000 (seven hundred thousand) Apple fans (the number of Macs sold in all of 1995) and that they each are buying a minimum of 8 (eight) iPhones in three days just to pump up the numbers. I'm sorry, but that simply isn't logical or even well-reasoned. It seems far more reasonable to believe that Apple keeps earning new customers through the quality and reliability of their products and services--something that is already proven and has been proven for the last several years at least.

      Remember, hardware alone does not make a product work. The complete package--hardware, software and ecosystem (which includes stores and service)--are why Apple continues to grow sales despite all the arguments and complaints by the nay-sayers. Sears, a long time ago, became the biggest retailer in the world due to its abilities to make almost anything available to a customer AND ensure both quality and service for the products they sold. It wasn't until the '70s when they dropped much of their vaunted service to become 'just another retail store' that they started sliding down-hill to the point that even K-mart--on the skids itself--could buy them out just for the name.

      Polaroid is just a name now--Edwin Land wouldn't recognize it.
      Kodak is just a name now-- George Eastman wouldn't recognize it.

      Apple, for now, is more than just a name. Just as Land and Eastman took their companies to the top of their respective markets over the years, Steve Jobs brought Apple to the top of its respective market. Unlike Sears, Polaroid and Kodak, Jobs left ingredients in place to keep Apple rolling at the top for at least another decade and if his lessons stick, they will stay there at least as long as Sears, Polaroid and Kodak stayed at the top of theirs. Yes, I do believe Apple will eventually slip to a commodity status like all the rest, but just like those others, it will be replaced by something at least somewhat better. The internet has made mail-order shopping even easier; digital has made even instant photography more instant and higher quality; digital has made archival photography and snapshot photography easier and cheaper; what comes after Apple will make computing as we know it today look like carving letters into granite.
      • Apple Focuses on the User Experience

        DWFields, you've hit the nail on the head. I was a confirmed MSoft guy until 2008. Tired of crashes and losing my Internet connection I bit the bullet and bought an iMac. There was a short learning curve, but in the last 4 years my computer has not crashed once, and I never lost my Internet connection due to a computer/software issue. My experience was so good that I invested in Apple stock and bought an iPhone 3GS and subsequently upgraded to an iPhone 4Gs. I also bought an iPad2. I'm now a confirmed Apple person, not because I'm a "sheepy" as Android and Microsoft fan boys like to derisively call us, but because I value quality, ease of use, and the compatibility that comes with the Apple ecosystem. I'll probably never go back to Microsoft or consider Android. Apple is a success because they've focused on the user experience.
        • Well said

          I just want my stuff to work. My success with Apple products mirrors yours. I'm still trying to understand what the restrictions and limitations that I'm supposed to be experiencing.