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iPhone 5 Launch weekend: Apple sells Record 5 million units, but held back by supply constraints

Depending on who you talk to, the analysts were off by a fairly wide margin with their prediction that Apple would sell as many as 8 million units during the launch weekend for iPhone 5. Now that the weekend has wrapped and Apple has officially announced sales of 5 million handsets over three days, we’re left to figure out why the sales increase seen from the iPhone 4 to the iPhone 4S was far greater than what just occurred.

First off, if you listen to Apple, then the iPhone 5 launch weekend was a great success. Tim Cook says this: “Demand for iPhone 5 has been incredible and we are working hard to get an iPhone 5 into the hands of every customer who wants one as quickly as possible.” It’s true, Apple sold out of preorders within a number of hours, and launch day stock also flew off the shelves as expected. Even so, the sales growth from iPhone 4S to iPhone 5 stands at 25 percent—a far cry from the 135 percent increase that occurred from 4 to 4S.

Apple’s iPhone 5 sales would probably be seen as stellar if it weren’t for analysts’ hyped predictions. According to Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray, the numbers he and others put out there took into account all preorders, and this is not reportedly not reflected in Apple’s press release… Be that as it may, Apple’s stock took a 2 percent dive as a result of the discrepancy between predictions and the 5 million units that were reported sold by Apple… That number might rise quicker than expected, considering how more than a few iPhone 5 units are probably en route to new customers at the time of this writing.

Brian White with Topeka Capital Markets pointed out the iPhone 5 sales shortfall is attributed to the limited availability of the iPhone 5 at launch, as evident by how quickly the pre-order supply sold out at launch.  Analyst Gene Munster also pointed out that Apple may have rationed some of its iPhone 5 supply for its launch this week in 22 additional countries.

Whether it’s 5 million, 8 million, or 10 million, nobody is redacting their prediction that iPhone 5 will be a success for Apple.  As the days and weeks progress, it only remains to be seen how remarkable that success will be.

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