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Apple Sells 5 Million iPhones, Below Some Forecasts

Apple Sells 5 Million iPhones, Below Some Forecasts
September 24, 2012 2:13PM

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Despite the early success -- and despite breaking the 4 million phones sold for the iPhone 4 in the same time frame a year ago -- Apple's iPhone 5 missed analyst estimates. Some analysts estimated Apple would sell as many as 10 million of the iPhone 5 out of the gate. Are analysts concerned? Shaw Wu, an analyst at Sterne Agee, is not.

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After a record-breaking pre-order weekend, Apple on Monday announced it has sold more than 5 million of its new iPhone 5 smartphones just three days after the phone's launch last Friday.

Apple also reports that more than 100 million iOS devices have been updated with iOS 6, the newest version of the iPhone-maker's mobile operating system.

"Demand for iPhone 5 has been incredible and we are working hard to get an iPhone 5 into the hands of every customer who wants one as quickly as possible," said Tim Cook, Apple's CEO.

"While we have sold out of our initial supply, stores continue to receive iPhone 5 shipments regularly and customers can continue to order online and receive an estimated delivery date. We appreciate everyone's patience and are working hard to build enough iPhone 5s for everyone."

Why Missed Estimates?

Apple had better work fast. Currently, the iPhone 5 is available in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the U.K. But the demand is likely to grow exponentially when it becomes available in 22 more countries on Friday and more than 100 countries by the end of the year.

The iPhone 5 is the thinnest and lightest iPhone ever, completely redesigned to feature a new 4-inch Retina display, an Apple-designed A6 chip for faster performance, faster wireless technology, and better battery life than previous models.

Still, despite the early success -- and despite breaking the record 4 million phones sold for the iPhone 4 in the same time frame a year ago -- iPhone 5 missed analyst estimates. Some analysts estimated Apple would sell as many as 10 million iPhones out of the gate. Are analysts concerned? Shaw Wu, an analyst at Sterne Agee, is not.

Irresponsible Estimates

Although the estimates are off, he told us 5 million is still a big number. He believes Apple missing the estimates is more a matter of high expectations getting out of touch with reality. There's also the issue of a shortage. Not everyone who wanted an iPhone 5 was able to purchase one.

"To us, it isn't about how well a product does in a few days but how it does over the next two to four quarters," Wu said. "We continue to believe iPhone 5 is a significant update and will drive a powerful product cycle."

As Wu sees it, it's unfortunate that some analysts continue to publish irresponsible estimates without taking into account realistic demand trends and potential supply constraints on new touchscreens. At this point, his firm remains comfortable with its forecasts looking for 27 million iPhones in the September quarter and 46.5 million units in the December quarter.

Wu also addressed the Maps backlash from users who prefer the Google Maps app over Apple's native option now featured on iOS 6. He is certain that the Maps software will get better over time

"We view this as a temporary setback," Wu said. "We believe for most users, the new Maps application is a significant breakthrough where the main attraction is in its turn-by-turn navigation and new imaging with 3D photo-realistic views."

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