When the iPhone 3G went on sale last year, lines stretching around the block formed at a large number of Apple Stores on a daily basis. Not only did the then newly-released iPhone 3G finally have, you guessed it, 3G capability, but it also included GPS, and more importantly, it was $200 cheaper.
Apple’s next iteration of the iPhone, the 3G S, goes on sale tomorrow morning, and analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray anticipates that Apple will sell half a million phones this weekend.
Over 1 million iPhone 3G’s were sold in the first weekend it went on sale, but Munster points out a few factors explaining why the release of the iPhone 3G S won’t push as many units this time around. First, the iPhone 3G S is only launching in 8 countries this weekend, as opposed to the 21 in which the iPhone 3G launched last July. And second, Munster writes:
In 2008, Apple introduced the iPhone 3G at $199, a 50% reduction from the previous model, which drove demand up significantly. Most customers will be able to purchase the new iPhone 3G S for $199 (the same price as the previous model). As such, the change in value proposition for the iPhone 3G S is not as meaningful as it was for the iPhone 3G, leading to less of a surge in units at launch.
I should point out though that Munster is clearly no Messiah when it comes to Apple predictions. If you recall, Munster wrote in the days before WWDC that Apple would not unveil a new iPhone at the WWDC keynote. In a note to investors, Munster opined:
While some investors may be expecting Apple to launch redesigned iPhones at WWDC, we do not anticipate the launch in early June. Rather, we expect Apple to host a special event in late June or early July to launch a family of iPhones. We continue to expect multiple models, possibly a high-end iPhone with improved specs from the current version and a low-end version with lower capacity and fewer features along with a reduced pricing plan. Such a model could also be used in Apple’s launch of the iPhone into China as soon as the end of summer ‘09.
Lastly, RBC Capital’s MIke Abramsky anticipates iPhone 3G S sales coming in at anywhere between 500,000 and 700,000 units this weekend.