Some analysis last week poured cold water on the idea that the new iPhone 3G S would outsell its predecessor on the first weekend, and only make 500,000 sales. We say otherwise, and there's plenty of data around to back that up.
Let's start with this suggestion by an Apple employee who did some basic math. Based on the state of Apple store pre-order information he was party to—the number of reservations per store, and the 200-odd Apple stores in the U.S.—the figures for pre-sale iPhone 3G S's total between 200,000 and 400,000.
Next up comes the news that AT&T had sold out of its pre-order stock. An AT&T spokesman confirmed that the company sold "hundreds of thousands" of the new iPhone, and best-guess estimates point at 300,000 as a representative figure. Best Buy, with 1,000 stores, also confirmed it had sold-out of pre-order stock, though a leaked document claimed there were only 20,000 phones reserved for the vendor.
O2 in the U.K. reported strong sales, and by lunchtime on friday the company had sold more iPhone 3G S's than it had 3G's the previous year. Back then, the British public were so keen to pre-order that they crashed the company's online store. O2 hasn't revealed sales figures yet, but remember that last year pre-orders in Spain and the U.K. exceeded 300,000 units, as reported by O2's owner Telefonica. With around 200 store locations, and O2 expecting to sell 50% more 3G S's than it did 3Gs, the numbers look good.
Now add the fact that people are still willing to line up outside Apple stores to buy the latest iPhone, even though it looks exactly like the previous version. And don't forget the walk-in purchases made at the U.S.'s 3,000 Wal-Mart stores, and the sales by carriers in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland. Making some best-guesses about the figures for each of those sources brings the grand total to one million devices easily, even if you're conservative with the numbers you allocate to each carrier.
In other words, despite the economy, competition from Google and the Palm Pre... despite the analysts low estimates and the similarities between the iPhone 3G S and its predecessor, it looks like Apple has another mega-seller on its hands. One thing's also for sure: It puts the Palm Pre's reported 50,000 first-weekend sales in perspective.
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Update: We were right. Apple's just released the news that over one million 3G S's were indeed sold the first weekend. The press release has a quote from Steve Jobs himself to confirm it: "Customers are voting and the iPhone is winning...With over 50,000 applications available from Apple's revolutionary App Store, iPhone momentum is stronger than ever."
The release also confirms that six million copies of the new 3.0 firmware have been downloaded in the five days since it became available.
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