Apple has its groove back (if indeed it had ever really gone missing). By my lights, Apple had been having a pretty good past 12 months, during which they released the iPad mini, 4th-gen iPad, the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro, new iMacs, hot-selling Haswell powered MacBook Airs with their phenomenal battery runtime between charges. They also unveiled a radical new Mac Pro desktop design, and now have released two new iPhones and iOS 7. It’s been a full and productive year, but selling a record-annihilating nine million iPhones in three days should silence the naysayers and crepe-hangers…for a while anyway. The headline in a commentary by Fortune’s Philip Elmer-DeWitt: “Maybe Apple’s Tim Cook knows what he’s doing after all,” succinctly summed things up.
As a bonus, Apple also managed to take some of the wind out of Microsoft’s sails by upstaging what Redmond had doubtless hoped would be the top IT sector news story of the day—the announcement of its second generation Surface tablet PCs. However, the online and broadcast news coverage I watched was mostly going ga-ga over the nine million iPhones Apple moved over the weekend, with the Surface reveal event downgraded to “Oh, yes, Microsoft also announced some new tablets today” mentions. Of course, Microsoft has only themselves to blame for scheduling the Surface 2 unveiling on the same day they had to be aware that Apple would announce its new iPhone first-weekend sales metrics. Perhaps they believed the lugubrious predictions that Apple—with its two new models this year—might have difficulty matching the iPhone 5′s first weekend performance last year. Analysts had been forecasting 5 million at the low end, and 7.75 million at the outside top.
Instead, Apple blew past the iPhone 5′s also record-breaking five million first weekend sales metric from 2012, and ended up nearly doubling it with cumulative iPhone 5s and 5c sales in their joint 2013 debut. Apple did not provide a breakdown of 5s and 5c sales respectively, but Analytics and marketing platform Localytics’ Bernd Leger reports that the clear winner is the iPhone 5s, noting that in less than 3 days, the iPhone 5s and 5c combined went from zero to represent about 1.36% of the total numbers of all iPhones activated in the U.S. market across the top four carriers: AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile.
And based on the carrier data they’re watching, 1.05% of all iPhones in the United States are now iPhone 5s while just 0.31% are iPhone 5c, which indicates that the iPhone 5s is outselling the 5c by a factor of 3.4x among early adopters. However, we can likely expect relative sales volumes between the two models to balance more closely after the first spike of sales flattens out, since it makes logical sense that users who feel compelled to buy a new device the first weekend it launches are most likely power users, who won’t be the typical iPhone buyer.
Internationally, Leger reports that a similar pattern is emerging, with the iPhone 5s outpacing the 5c by an average factor of about 3.7x, with one exception being Japan where the 5s is outselling the 5c by a factor of 5x. Reportedly, the gold iPhone 5s was first to sell out.
In addition, Apple announced that in the first five days after upgrade downloads became available last on September 18, more than 200 million iOS devices had been upgraded to iOS 7, making it the fastest OS upgrade uptake in history. TUAW’s Steven Sande reports that, according to Mixpanel data, the number of iOS devices running iOS 7 had surpassed the number running iOS 6 only three days after the final was released last Wednesday, and that by late afternoon on Saturday, Mixpanel was showing iOS 7 adoption at 52.35% compared to iOS 6 at 43.66%, with older devices running earlier versions of the iOS remaining at about 3.98%.
“This is our best iPhone launch yet—more than nine million new iPhones sold—a new record for first weekend sales,” said Apple’s vindicated and obviously ecstatic Tim Cook in a release. “The demand for the new iPhones has been incredible, and while we’ve sold out of our initial supply of iPhone 5s, stores continue to receive new iPhone shipments regularly. We appreciate everyone’s patience and are working hard to build enough new iPhones for everyone.”
Let’s just call it another out-of-the-park home run for Apple.