Apple Sets New Opening Weekend Record With 10 Million iPhones Sold

PETER KNEFFEL/AFP/Getty Images

PETER KNEFFEL/AFP/Getty Images

Apple’s first weekend iPhone sales numbers are in, and once again, the Cupertino-based company has set a new record. On Monday, Apple announced that it has sold over ten million new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models since the devices became available at Apple Stores and other retail locations on Friday, September 19. The record sales number tops the nine million iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C models Apple sold during last year’s launch weekend, as well as the five million iPhone 5 units sold in 2012.

“Sales for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus exceeded our expectations for the launch weekend, and we couldn’t be happier,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. “We would like to thank all of our customers for making this our best launch ever, shattering all previous sell-through records by a large margin. While our team managed the manufacturing ramp better than ever before, we could have sold many more iPhones with greater supply and we are working hard to fill orders as quickly as possible.”

While Cook didn’t specify which model would have sold more if there had been a greater supply, reports of the larger 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus being sold out at many U.S. retail locations were coming in as early as Saturday morning, according to Bloomberg. The high U.S. consumer demand for the iPhone 6 Plus reflects the growing popularity of so-called “phablets” in the overall smartphone market. Market research firm Canalys reported that smartphones with screens five inches or larger represented a 34 percent share of the worldwide smartphone market in the first quarter of 2014.

Canalys also noted that large-screen smartphones are the fastest growing segment of the global smartphone market with a year-over-year growth rate of 369 percent. While Samsung has traditionally dominated this market segment with its line of Galaxy Note devices, the debut of Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus may prove to be a watershed moment for the Korea-based company.

While Apple only surpassed last year’s first weekend sales numbers by approximately one million units, it should be noted that China — the world’s largest smartphone market — was not included in this year’s initial launch event. According to sources cited by The New York Times, Apple is still waiting for the new iPhone models to be approved by Chinese regulators. As a result, Apple’s latest iPhone models were only available in ten markets during this year’s launch weekend, rather than the eleven markets the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C launched in last year. Despite China’s exclusion from the launch weekend, Counterpoint Research analyst Neil Shah estimated that up to five million new iPhones may have still made it to China via the gray market, according to Bloomberg.

It should also be noted that Apple’s launch weekend sales numbers from last year were likely boosted by the discontinuation of the iPhone 5 and its replacement with the iPhone 5C. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster even advised investors to “avoid the opening weekend numbers given difficult comps from the iPhone 5C channel fill.” However, Apple still managed to surpass Munster’s prediction of 6.5 million units. Some analysts are already adjusting their price targets on Apple shares based on the record iPhone 6 demand, including Canaccord Genuity’s Mike Walkley, who raised his price target to $115 from $112 after Apple’s announcement, according to Barron’s.

Other analysts questioned the importance of Apple’s first weekend sales numbers since early consumer demand typically outweighs the initial supply of available iPhones. “The first weekend iPhone sales number continues to be more about how much Apple can supply than what the demand is in the market,” BTIG Research analyst Walter Piecyk told The New York Times. For this reason, more analysts may be inclined to focus on the sales numbers for the upcoming weekend, when Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will land in 22 additional countries during the second launch wave starting on Friday, September 26.

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