iPhone 5 Smashes Preorder Sales Record

Michelle Maisto covers mobile devices, Android and Apple for eWEEK and is also a food writer.

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Apple said it sold more than 2 million iPhone 5 devices in the first 24 hours it was available for preorder, more than double the figure for the iPhone 4S

Apple sold more than 2 million iPhone 5 smartphones in the first 24 hours that it was available for preorder. This was more than double the record set by the iPhone 4S nearly a year ago, Apple said in a 17 September statement.

US mobile operator AT&T announced the same morning that customers had ordered record numbers of iPhone 5s over the weekend, making it the fastest-selling iPhone the carrier has ever offered.

Preorder sales

After its 12 September introduction, the iPhone 5 became available for preorder on 14 September, just after midnight on the US’ west coast.

“Customers ordered more iPhones from AT&T than any previous model both on its first day of preorders and over the weekend,” said AT&T.

On the Apple site, stocks were depleted after just an hour of availability, and Apple changed the ship date on the site from 21 September to “two weeks”.

“Demand for iPhone 5 exceeds the initial supply and while the majority of pre-orders will be delivered to customers on 21 September, many are scheduled to be delivered in October,” Apple said in its statement.

Nearly a year ago, Apple announced that preorders for the iPhone 4S exceeded 1 million phones in the first day, breaking the record of the year before – orders for more than 600,000 iPhone 4 smartphones after its release.

Verizon Wireless and Sprint also began offering the iPhone 5 on 14 September, though neither has shared news about their sales efforts just yet.

Research firm IHS iSuppli has forecast strong sales for the iPhone 5, writing in a 13 September research note that phone will be a “major success in the market, helping to drive Apple’s smartphone shipments in 2012 to 149 million units, up 60 percent from 93 million in 2011”.

IHS added that Apple will begin selling the iPhone 5 with just over one week left in its fiscal third quarter, so that most of the sales will impact its fourth quarter, making it “Apple’s biggest quarter for iPhone sales in history”.

iOS ‘most valuable marketplace’

Despite Android’s dominance in the marketplace – according to Gartner, more than 64 percent of the mobile devices that shipped during the second quarter ran Google’s Android OS – IHS said Apple’s iOS is “still the most valuable mobile content marketplace”.

The iPhone 5 features a 4-inch display (on the diagonal), a first for Apple, which has maintained a 3.5-inch display on past models. The larger display will accommodate older applications, though Apple has offered developers a fix, for a better experience.

“The new iPhone will support old apps via the addition of a ribbon so as to preserve the original aspect ratio,” wrote Jack Kent, an IHS senior analyst. “While this will maintain the experience, it does fall short of the flawless hardware-software integration that a vertically integrated model like Apple’s should provide.”

Also imperfect will be the iPhone 5’s support of Long-Term Evolution (LTE) 4G technology – another first. While Apple’s support for LTE will help increase support for the technology, according to IHS, only European operators with 4G deployments on the 1,800MHz band will be compatible with the iPhone 5’s LTE capabilities.

“This will affect the competitive position of carriers,” said the IHS report. “Those that have LTE networks compatible with the iPhone 5 will benefit at the expense of those that either have not launched LTE or have LTE networks that operate on incompatible frequencies.”

Apple will begin selling the iPhone 5 at 356 US Apple retail stores at 8 a.m. on Friday, 21 September. Shops in the UK and seven other countries will also be selling the iPhone 5 from Friday, with a further 22 countries getting the device a week later.

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