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The numbers are in. Apple sold a whopping 9 million iPhone worldwide this past weekend.

Apple® today announced it has sold a record-breaking nine million new iPhone® 5s and iPhone 5c models, just three days after the launch of the new iPhones on September 20.

As a comparison, it sold 5 million units on a similar timeframe when the iPhone 5 was released.

No country breakdown

Apple never breaks down sales numbers across countries, nor—and it is more important this time around—between models. There’s no way of knowing how many iPhone were sold in Japan alone. We will have a better overview of gains between carriers subscribers when the new contract numbers will be officially released early next month, but they will only show trends, as, again, no per-model segmentation. The iPhone will also clearly the most sold phone during this week in Japan—another estimate we’ll get next Friday—but, here again, no exact numbers will be given. ((note that the iPhone is not sold through the online Apple store, making delivery dates impossible to constantly guess))

There are still some inferences that we can make to put some light on the performance of the iPhone this past weekend. The easiest statement first: it’s pretty certain that the 9 million mark was made possible with the help of DOCOMO, the most important carrier in Japan.

5c versus 5s

It’s obvious that the iPhone 5s will outsell the 5c at this early stage: those who are lining up in front of Apple stores are like the moviegoers queuing for a new Star Wars movie . They want to be first to get the newest experience. The iPhone 5c is simply not a phone that was ever intended for early adopters . It will sell loads, but on a second or third wave: in Japan, probably the most around the Christmas period, if a continued pricing war ensues and lures new customers in, and around the end of the fiscal year (next March) when the Japanese carriers are giving it all to grab the most subscribers.

5s as the early king in Japan

Localytics, a mobile analytics and marketing platform, released some interesting numbers earlier today. And it confirms what I thought. Through a surveying of mobile and web apps1, it estimated that the iPhone 5s is outselling the 5c by a comfortable ratio.


What about over here? The iPhone 5s is outselling the 5c by a factor of 5 in Japan . This is higher than the worldwide ratio of 3.7 and the US, where it stands at 3.4.

I’m not really surprised by this higher ratio. The queues in Japan were always more impressive than anywhere else—the Japanese truly love the iPhone—and the definition of what is new itself has a strong appeal.

How many iPhone sold?

Yesterday, Nikkei ran an article that hinted at disappointing sales. It was mostly focused on how the pre-orders were faring. Since those only cover the 5c, I wouldn’t read too much into it.

Localytics metrics are what they are too: a representation of traffic for one provider, via some properties; they can’t tell the overall picture.2

I’m particularly startled at how China fares here. Last year, it sold 2 million during the first weekend. Granted, it was not during the iPhone 5 worldwide launch but later, thus relatively closer to the current release3. Still, the analytics could very well have a US bias (under-counting China to a large extent and maybe Japan somewhat too), allowing one to see the 5s/5c ratios as good estimates, but not the global distribution.

I’m thus only allowing myself to make a guess: 1.15 million iPhone 5s/5c sold in Japan during the launch weekend .

I could be proven wrong—I’m probably a bit optimistic—but, in any case, not bad.

  1. full methodology, as per the website: Localytics is the leading analytics and marketing platform for mobile and web apps across more than 1 billion devices, 20,000 apps and 5,000 customers. Localytics processes 50 billion data points monthly. For this study, we examined over 20 million unique iPhones and investigated the breakdowns by United States carriers and by global activations. The timeframe for this study is all active iPhones from when the iPhone 5s and 5c were first released on September 20th, 2013 until 8 pm EST, Sunday September 22nd, 2013. 

  2. the company notably massively over-counted the Windows Phone market share in August 2012. 

  3. a smaller cycle could have some impact on the sales 

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