Though Apple declined to break down iPhone sales by model when it reported first-quarter earnings earlier this week, a recent study by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) does just that. And it finds the iPhone 4S to be the most popular model of the device, by far.
According to CIRP, iPhone sales have favored the 4S above all other models since the device’s Oct. 14 launch in 2011, despite some new and compelling pricing for the iPhone 4 and 3GS. The research house found the 4S to account for 89 percent of iPhone sales since its debut, while the iPhone 4 and 3GS accounted for 7 percent and 4 percent, respectively.
Interestingly, the higher-end 4S models sold particularly well. Of that 89 percent figure, 21 percent were 64 gigabyte models, 34 percent were 32GB, and 45 percent were 16GB. So, while a lot of folks have been willing to spring for the $199 16GB 4S, an impressive number have been willing to cough up the $399 for the 64GB.
“Clearly, the iPhone 4S sold very well,” CIRP co-founder Mike Levin told AllThingsD, before adding some additional color to the metrics above. “An amazing 19 percent of all iPhone buyers upgraded from the iPhone 4, a phone barely a year old at the time of the launch. Forty-two percent of iPhone buyers broke existing carrier contracts to get the new iPhone 4S. And 19 percent of these iPhone 4S buyers sold their old iPhone in the secondary market. Early upgrades, broken contracts, and selling used phones — all allow buyers to purchase the new iPhone 4S, when conventional wisdom suggests that these users would follow the two-year contract cycle, or at least purchase the cheaper models.”
But those are side notes, really. The most important takeaway from CIRP’s research is that Apple is selling mostly iPhone 4Ss. And with an estimated bill of materials between $170 to $220, the manufacturing margins on the 4S are huge — roughly 71 percent to 73 percent.
Little wonder why the company’s latest quarter was such a monster.