Sales of the new iPhone 3G S, which hit stores early Friday morning, have thus far exceeded all expectations, brushing aside speculation that lightning couldn’t strike twice for Apple.
Before the iPhone 3G S went on sale, analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray predicted about 500,000 in sales for the device. Once doors opened for business, however, Munster re-calculated his figures and noted that his previously quoted figure of half a million might now be conservative.
Of course, one reason why iPhone 3G S sales have been through the roof is because this time around, AT&T and Apple finally allowed customers to pre-order the device. This enabled consumers to either have the device delivered right to their homes or bypass the long lines that have come to be expected at Apple Stores anytime there’s a big product release.
Last Friday, AT&T CEO Ralph de la Vega said in an interview with CNBC that hundreds of thousands of customers had pre-ordered the new iPhone through AT&T, vastly exceeding all of AT&T’s expectations for the device.
And the story gets even better for Apple overseas.
O2, Apple’s iPhone provider in the UK, issued a press release on Friday stating that by noon it had already sold more iPhone 3G S devices than it had sold iPhone 3G’s “on launch day last year.” Moreover, it noted that foot traffic at its stores was 10x higher than usual this past Friday, with website activity increasing by 150%. By the end of the day on Friday, O2 speculated that they had sold 50% more 3G S devices than they did iPhone 3G’s on its first day of availability last summer.
Last year, over 1 million iPhone 3G’s were sold during launch weekend, and it’s very possible that once the numbers are in, the iPhone 3G S will have surpassed that figure – an impressive feat for 2 reasons.
First, it’s important to remember that last year’s iPhone 3G launched concurrently in 21 countries worldwide. The iPhone 3G S, however, was only available in 8 countries this weekend. Second, last summer marked the first time that Apple lowered the price of its iPhone models to the more affordable $199 and $299 price points, a move which instantly increased demand for the device. Because of the above 2 factors, analysts figured that the new iPhone wouldn’t sell as briskly as the iPhone 3G did last year. But apparently they were wrong, with many Apple Stores still sporting long lines for the device as of Sunday afternoon.
And if you think this is impressive, just wait until the iPhone becomes available on a carrier other than AT&T. Now that’s a scary thought.
On a somewhat related note, AT&T’s activation servers once again slowed to a crawl on Friday, with some users being told they’d have to wait up to 48 hours before their shiny new iPhones became active. Reportedly, some users will now have to wait an additional 48 hours as well. But in a gesture of good will to new iPhone customers, Apple has responded by offering affected customers a $30 iTunes Store credit for their troubles.
In an email sent out early on Sunday, Apple wrote:
Dear Apple Customer,
Thank you for your recent Apple Store order. We appreciate your patience and apologize for the inconvenience caused by the delay in your iPhone activation.
We are still resolving the issue that was encountered while activating your iPhone with AT&T. Unfortunately, due to system issues and continued high activation volumes, this could take us up to an additional 48 hours to complete.
On Monday, you’ll receive an email from Apple with an iTunes Store credit in the amount of $30. We hope you will enjoy this gift and accept our sincere apologies for the inconvenience this delay has caused.
Thank you for choosing Apple.
Apple Online Store Team