Apple sold a combined 9 million units of its new iPhone 5S and 5C models over the launch weekend.
At first glance, that appears to be considerably better than last year’s launch of the iPhone 5, which sold 5 million units on its opening weekend.
But that’s not a fair comparison, since this year Apple launched not one but two iPhone models. Not to mention, when the iPhone 5 launched in September last year, mainland China wasn’t among the initial markets included, and China is a huge market for Apple.
In order to arrive at a better gauge of this year’s iPhone launch, we can put aside the 5C for the moment and estimate the number of iPhone 5S models sold to compare results for just the two high-end flagship models (last year’s iPhone 5 and this year’s 5S).
Mobile analytics platform Localytics says that based on data from the hundreds of millions of phones accessing its network, the iPhone 5S outsold the 5C globally by a factor of about 3.7 to 1.
So, if there were 9 million total iPhone 5S and 5C units sold, that means over 7 million units of the 5S were sold.
Last year, there were 5 million iPhone 5 units sold globally in the first weekend, plus an additional 2 million sold during the China launch in mid-December. That means that once China is accounted for, the iPhone 5 also sold 7 million units in its “first weekend,” which puts it dead-even with the iPhone 5S.
Apple did gain an additional 1.9 million unit sales this year from the 5C, which isn’t peanuts.
But many tech news outlets are getting it wrong when they report an 80% gain over last year’s iPhone 5 launch. Once we account for the belated iPhone 5 China launch, the gain shrinks to 30%.
Actual China iPhone 5S and 5C sales will be closely monitored, but so far they’re difficult to judge from the data.
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