iPhone Sales, Perhaps Not So Dissapointing After All

Yesterday, Apple announced they sold 270,000 iPhones in their last financial quarter. This is no doubt giving conniptions to people who were, only days ago, calling iPhone sales disappointing.

Earlier in the week, some members of the press seemed to be having second thoughts about their profession’s participation in the iPhone hype storm, so some of them lept upon a little fact from an AT&T earnings call that they’d only activated 140K iPhones in their last quarter, the last 30 hours of which overlapped with the iPhone’s debut.

This was terrible terrible terrible, because it was only a few weeks ago that they were hyping reporting the most breathless predictions that 700,000 or even one million iPhones had been sold shortly after launch. So they eagerly compared this information about iPhone service activations with AT&T over a 30 hour period to the most optimistic estimates for iPhone sales (ie, they compared oranges to apples) for the entire weekend. They also ignored or downplayed the fact that a lot of iPhone customers had trouble getting their phones activated that weekend, because AT&Ts systems couldn’t keep up.

Predictably, the same people who bought the earlier hype, happily swallowed this “news,” and Apple’s stock price, which had recently shot up on the positive spin, sank due to the negative spin. This drop then lead to more stories about how disappointing the iPhone was and reassured the press that they still have some influence.

Well, Apple stock is back up again. It’s recaptured everything it lost two days ago after the AT&T earnings call. The latest numbers hold up well against earlier estimates of earlier iPhone sales, many of which were in the range of between 300,000 and 500,000. Even if Sunday’s sales were 1/3rd of what they were for Friday evening and all of Saturday, it’s likely that Apple sold over 350,000 phones in the first weekend, and it looks like sales during the following week were also quite strong as most stores sold out of the phones almost as quickly as they received new shipments. I should note that even these estimates would probably have been considered optimistic back in June.

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