Despite shorter lines in fewer countries than last year’s launch of the iPhone 3G, the iPhone 3G S may yet perform nearly as well, at least during the first weekend of sales. Via AppleInsider, AT&T (s t) spokesperson Michael Coe has been quoted as saying AT&T “sold hundreds of thousands through our preorder process prior to the launch, which exceeded our own expectations for iPhone 3G S.”
While Cole did not confirm a number in excess of 300,000 for the iPhone 3G S, even 250,000 from AT&T would significantly boost sales numbers for the weekend. Apple (s appl) itself, through preorders and its own retail outlets, will certainly sell more than AT&T. Additional sales will also be coming from new iPhone retailers Best Buy (s bby) and Wal-Mart (s wmt), so shorter lines at Apple stores this year are not necessarily indicative of slower sales compared to the iPhone 3G last year. In light of the news from AT&T, it’s now reasonable to assume initial sales of the iPhone 3G S will exceed expectations.
Philip Elmer-DeWitt at Apple 2.0 reported on a research note from Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster, in which the analyst suggested Apple would sell about 500,000 units. RBC analyst Mike Abramsky is predicting sales between 500,000 and 700,000 this weekend. In comparison, the original iPhone sold 270,000 units in its first weekend, while the iPhone 3G sold more than a million. Considering the iPhone 3G S is selling in eight countries, vs. 21 for the iPhone 3G, it seems unlikely that the iPhone 3G S will break the record of its predecessor. Still, these initial numbers augur well for the quarter.
Currently, Gene Munster projects sales of 5 million iPhones, both the 3G and 3G S, in the current quarter, and 7 million in Apple’s fourth fiscal quarter beginning in July. However, if the initial surge of pre-orders from AT&T is indicative of a larger trend, that number will be revised sharply upward. Other indicators of that trend include a new report from ChangeWave Research, via Apple 2.0.
According to ChangeWave, interest in the iPhone 3G S is now 44 percent, up from 30 percent in March. In contrast, interest in BlackBerry devices (s rimm) is now 23 percent, down from 37 percent. According to NPD, RIM sold 7.8 million units last quarter, up nearly 50 percent from the year before. If sales of BlackBerrys are up, while interest is waning, perhaps 7 million iPhone sales is too low an estimate for next quarter, let alone the holidays.
Ten million iPhones for Christmas, anyone?