Apple Inc sold 9 million iPhones in the weekend debut of two new models, almost double the previous record, even as supply constraints held back availability for some customers.
Analysts had predicted the company would sell 5 million to 7.75 million units of the upgraded iPhone 5S and multicolor 5C models.
Demand for the 5S — the higher-end version of the new iPhone — exceeded initial supplies, Cupertino, California-based Apple said in a statement yesterday.
Apple shares rose in early trading as the results alleviated investors’ concern that growth is slowing at the world’s largest technology company. The iPhone is Apple’s most important product, accounting for half its sales.
Apple has seen its sales and profit growth slow recently and has ceded its stake in the US$280 billion smartphone market to Samsung Electronics Co and other rivals.
The smartphones went on sale on Friday in the US, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore and the UK.
It is the first time Apple has rolled out its flagship product for sale in China on the same day as other countries, abandoning the usual three-month delay as it seeks to lure new customers in the world’s largest mobile-phone market.
The more feature-rich iPhone 5S has an improved camera, fingerprint reader and faster processor. It comes in three colors — black-gray, white-silver and white-gold — and costs between US$199 and US$399 in the US with a two-year wireless contract. The less expensive 5C is a reconfigured version of last year’s iPhone with a plastic casing that comes in five colors. It starts at US$99 with a contract in the US.
Shoppers lined up at Apple Stores in New York, Munich, Tokyo and other cities, with some waiting for days to get their hands on the new models.
The gold version emerged as the hottest seller, and AT&T Inc, Sprint Corp, T-Mobile US Inc and Verizon Wireless will not be able to ship gold iPhones until next month, while the others are available this month, Apple said on its Web site.
Analysts’ estimates on iPhone sales over the debut weekend varied due to projected limited supplies of the iPhone 5S. Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray Cos said Apple would probably sell 5 million to 6 million, while Citigroup Inc’s Glen Yeung predicted as many as 7.75 million.
Apple has been criticized by many analysts, who say it has priced the iPhone 5C too high for many emerging markets where customers do not get the discount associated with signing up for a wireless contract. In China, the iPhone 5C costs more than US$700, or two months’ pay for the typical urban worker.