Did Apple Blow Out iPhone Estimates or Not, Damn It

A few days ago I wrote a post here saying that Apple had surpassed most first-weekend iPhone sale estimates from analysts. Now, however, the idea is out there that iPhone actually didn’t meet initial expectations.

So, what’s the story? Did Apple meet/beat iPhone sales forecasts or not?

The answer, it seems, depends on how much credence you put in those vestiges of the 1990s, whisper numbers. While it seems clear Apple sold more iPhones than analysts publicly forecast, at least some analysts also had non-published numbers that they said iPhone could hit, like … one million units.

Fine, you say, so with 700,000 or so units of first weekend sales did Apple meet, beat, or miss? The answer really depends. If you don’t put much stock (no pun intended) in whisper numbers, then Apple beat the numbers; if you want to give credence to whispers then Apple missed (slightly).

Looking farther out, however, I will say that I think the ongoing iPhone run rate is likely  to be slower than expected. Run rate is driven by word of mouth, and word of mouth on iPhone is somewhat worse than I expected. People are complaining about usability, call quality, missing features, and a long list of things that need to be fixed. While iPhone will be a major product, this 1.0 release will need to be updated very quickly.


  1. TheStreet.com story doesn’t hold much credibility. The analyst never made his claim prior to being able to test it; and searces for reports of this whisper number turn up zero results.
    Further, most Apple Stores and all AT&T stores are reporting out of stocks, meaning they really couldn’t fill any more demand, so how could something be expected that was never achievable?

  2. Not sure about the poor word of mouth; every owner I’ve talked to does mention bugs, but then immediately follows up with ‘of course it is still the greatest thing since sliced bread’ or something to that effect. The only strongly negative things I’ve heard are from blackberry and sidekick owners, which sound an awful lot to me like hifi owners complaining about the first walkmen.

  3. Crap article. No mention of what the time-frame for the target is and all very heresay. Apple didn’t even put 1M iPhones into stores on Fridays, so they couldn’t meet the target. Besides, by Monday evening the majority of stores were out of stock.
    Saying that not everybody in the country is willing to spend $600 on a new phone is kind of obvious, isn’t it? besides, its $500 and with the lower plan costs most people will make up the diff over 24 months
    I doubt the competitors are rejoicing, they lost at least 100k subscribers over the last 4 days and none of them have prepared any sort of response to the iPhone or the call+data plans from AT&T

  4. howlongtoretire says:

    “Run rate is driven by word of mouth, and word of mouth on iPhone is somewhat worse than I expected.”
    There you go… you’ve just joined “their” ranks. What the heck is “somewhat” and what was “expected” for “word of mouth?”

  5. Guilty as charged!
    Okay, to be somewhat more specific, I have been surprised at how poorly Apple implemented the phone aspect of the device. As people persist in pointing out, it’s something like 6 clicks to get from an app to the phone, which is just untenable for most real-world use.
    Have I newly flipped, however, to being iPhone bear-ish? Far from it. I just think that the current generation iPhone needs more updates sooner than many expected.

  6. Of course they’re not going to mention numbers, but when the actual numbers come out I’m sure Apple will say they exceeded expectations, whatever secret number they were. Didn’t Microsoft pull the same thing with the Zune?
    Personally, I’m hoping they hit a million for the three first days which would be incredible. But I wonder who shorted AT&T on stock? Did AT&T underestimate, or did Apple see to themselves first like they are said to do when new iPods come out?

  7. Poor word of mouth? Complaining? Not what I’m hearing…
    Are you trying to set Steve off? You must remember: “Negative people upset me.” :-)

  8. I too think Apple’s iPhone was a bit overhyped and already factored into the stock price. Should be interesting to see how it does over the next year. My guess is that it will do well compared to any other phone, but not as well as they (Apple shareholder’s) were expecting.