Apple Inc. was in the news yesterday after it revealed that the pre-order sales of its latest iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus are on track to beat the sales record of 10 million units set by iPhone 6 last year. The Wall Street Journal quoted an Apple spokesperson saying “Customer response to iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus has been extremely positive and preorders this weekend were very strong around the world”.
However, just this morning, Quartz reports that the pre-order sales of the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus would have been a big flop – if not for the fact that Apple had wisely opened up pre-orders in mainland China. Quartz’s new angle on the pre-order sales figure of the new iPhones raises questions about how long Apple can lead in the smartphone market until the market becomes tired of upgrades without something truly new like the first iPhone.
Pre-order sales by the numbers
Last year, the iPhone 6 set a record of pre-order sales of 10 million units in its first weekend sales. The same theme of massive pre-order sales in the first weekend played out after Apple unveiled the iPhone 5 in 2012, and the iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S in 2013. For instance, iPhone 5 had more than 5 million unit weekend sales after it was open to pre-orders in 10 countries in 2012. CEO Tim Cook said, “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… we have sold out of our initial supply”.
The iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C also recorded massive first weekend sales of 9 million units when they were launched in 2013. Apple reported that it sold more than 9 million iPhones in the first weekend to set a new record. Tim Cook said, “This is our best iPhone launch yet―more than nine million new iPhones sold―a new record for first weekend sales.”
The firm revealed that it sold more than 10 million iPhones mere three days after the launch on September 19, 2014. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were open to pre-orders in US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore and the UK. Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO said, “Sales for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus exceeded our expectations for the launch weekend, and we couldn’t be happier”.
What’s different about iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus Sales?
Apple says the first weekend sales of its new iPhones are on pace to beat the sales figure from last year. However, the problem is not about what the firm is saying, but about what it is not saying. In the last three years, Apple gave sales figure after it launched new iPhones and the firm makes a press release with words from the CEO. After the launch of the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus, Apple has not given a press release and it only said it was on pace to beat last year’s sales figure without breaking out the numbers.
Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein notes “omission of first-day order figures raises a question about whether this year’s initial orders might be lower than last year”. Apple typically doesn’t selling its iPhone in mainland China at the same time with U.S. markets. Greater China brings 20% of Apple’s sales; now, Apple is rushing sales in Mainland China; yet, it can’t boldly say that it has exceeded last year’s sales figure.