On Wednesday morning, Apple will officially unveil its next-generation iPhone, setting the stage for what some observers say will be one of the biggest upgrade cycles in consumer electronics history.
Hyperbole? Maybe. But given the iPhone’s history, it’s almost certain that Apple is poised to sell a ton of them at launch. The iPhone 3GS sold more than one million units during its first weekend at market. The iPhone 4 sold more than 1.7 million. And the iPhone 4S sold more than double that.
So, what sort of first-weekend sales numbers can we expect for the iPhone 5, or whatever Apple chooses to call the device?
More than the iPhone 4S, most likely. Potentially a lot more.
“Given that the iPhone 4S received over 1 million pre-orders in the first 24 hours, we expect at least 1.3 million to 1.5 million pre-orders for the iPhone 5,” says Topeka analyst Brian White. “Assuming supply chain constraints aren’t a major issue and the seven country rollout ensues, we believe at least 5 million to 5.5 million iPhone 5’s can be sold in [the first three days].”
Raymond James director Tavis McCourt offered a first-weekend sales estimate in the same ballpark.
“Apple sold four million iPhone 4Ss in the first weekend of availability last year, and the iPhone 4 sold 1.7 million,” McCourt told AllThingsD. “We expect five million to six million to be a reasonable estimate of first-weekend sales for the iPhone 5.”
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster was by far the most bullish of his colleagues, saying Apple could sell 6 million to 10 million new iPhones in the device’s first three days at market. “There is no question iPhone 5 will be the largest consumer electronics launch in history,” Munster told AllThingsD. “Given the hardware redesign it will likely crush previous iPhone launch sales.”
So, upward of 5 million seems to be the developing consensus around first weekend “iPhone 5” sales. Assuming Apple begins selling the device at retail on September 21, we should find out how close that estimate is to reality on September 23 or 24, when Apple broadcasts the inevitable “iPhone 5 Sales Top ? Million” press release.