iPhone day is here at last.
The lines for the iPhone 6 are insane at the Apple Store. They’re decent at carrier stores too.
So, now the question becomes how many phones will Apple sell this weekend? Or, perhaps more importantly, how many does it have to announce it sold to make investors happy?
We spoke with Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray about opening weekend iPhone sales on Thursday, before the new iPhone was in stores.
Here’s the bottom line:
- If Apple announces a mega number, and reports suggest that iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were impossible to get, then it’s a major positive for Apple.
- If Apple announces a smaller number like 7 million, and reports suggest that iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were impossible to get, then it’s good for Apple, but people will freak out. The stock could drop on Monday, but recover.
- If Apple announces a gigantic number like 15 million, then there’s some reason to be suspicious, but the stock will probably pop.
- If Apple announces nothing, then something is amiss and the stock will get hit.
Munster has a relatively low estimate for opening weekend sales — just 6.5 million. Walt Piecyk at BTIG estimates Apple sells 10 million.
Last year, Apple said it sold 9 million units over the weekend. But, Munster says those sales numbers were inflated because of the iPhone 5C.
Apple sold the iPhone 5C and the iPhone 5S last year. The 5C replaced the iPhone 5. That means Apple took the iPhone 5 out of all retail channels, and replaced it with the 5C. Filling the “channel” with the iPhone 5C led to an inflated opening weekend number for Apple.
Apple sold 9 million iPhones into the channel, but it didn’t necessarily sell them through to the customer. As a result, this year’s opening weekend iPhone sales are going to be hard to compare to last year’s.
Munster thinks Apple sold 5.4 million iPhone 5S units last year. So, if Apple sells 6.5 million iPhone 6 units this year, then it’s 20% year-over-year growth, but some people might not realise it because of last year’s skewed number.
However, Munster also cautions that a giant opening weekend number isn’t necessarily a good thing, either. If Apple comes out on Monday and says it sold 15 million iPhone 6s, then Munster thinks investors will see that as channel fill.
This year, Apple is selling an iPhone 6, which has a 4.7-inch screen and an iPhone 6 Plus, which has a 5.5-inch screen. The leaks leading up to the announcement of the iPhone 6 suggest that Apple was manufacturing a lot of iPhone 6s. The 6 Plus seems to be harder to make and is more scarce.
If there are anecdotal reports of people going to Apple stores over the weekend and being able to get an iPhone 6 without any trouble, and then Apple announces a giant number for sales, some people with shrug and think it’s channel fill.
Not that channel fill is the worst thing since Apple will eventually sell the phone. It’s just that the opening weekend can be manipulated and might not be the best indicator of demand.
Munster thinks that pre-orders are the truest measure, and Apple announces strong pre-orders of 4 million.