Apple claims that pre-orders of the iPhone 5 topped two million units in 24 hours, doubling that of the iPhone 4S during the same period last year.
Apple added that the sales volume exceeded the company’s supply of the next-generation smartphone, meaning that some pre-ordered devices won’t arrive until October. Apple’s Sept. 21 release date for the iPhone 5 remains unchanged; one imagines that, given the number of pre-orders, the actual customer lines at stores will be correspondingly lengthy.
Apple unveiled the iPhone 5 at a high-profile Sept. 12 event in San Francisco. The device features a 4-inch screen, larger than the 3.5-inch screens that defined previous iPhone generations, as well as Apple’s new A6 chip. Despite that larger screen, the iPhone 5 is 20 percent lighter and 18 percent thinner than the iPhone 4S, its immediate predecessor.
The iPhone 5 features HSPA+, DC-HSDPA, and LTE. Combined with the larger screen and the latest iOS 6 operating system, that should give Apple the feature set necessary to push back against rivals such as Samsung and Nokia, which have produced increasingly sophisticated smartphones with massive screens, 4G support, and sleek hardware.
Unlike those companies, which complement their flagship smartphone models with separate midmarket devices, Apple’s strategy for cornering all levels of the market centers on dropping the price of its previous iPhone models every time a new one comes out. The iPhone 5 will cost the same as the iPhone 4S: 16GB version for $199, 32GB version for $299, and the 64GB version for $399. Meanwhile, the iPhone 4S will drop down to a single 16GB version retailing for $99, while the iPhone 4 will become free with contract.
Even before Apple announced massive pre-orders, analysts were predicting the iPhone 5 would have a gargantuan market debut. The iPhone 5 launch could very well become “the largest consumer electronics product upgrade in history,” Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster told investors in an August research note—commentary mirrored by Jefferies & Co. analyst Peter Misek.
Michael Feroli, an economist at JPMorgan Chase, sent a note to clients (excerpted in The New York Times) stating that Apple could sell around 8 million iPhone 5 units in the United States in the fourth quarter of this year. “Sales of iPhone 5 could boost Q4 GDP by $2.3 billion, or $12.8 billion at an annual rate,” he wrote. “This would boost annualized GDP growth in Q4 by 0.33%-point.”