iPhone 4S pre-orders: they aren’t that big of a deal
Following the October 7 online launch of the iPhone 4S, Apple reported that over 1,000,000 iPhone 4S’ had been pre-ordered in the first 24 hours, besting the previous record held by the iPhone 4 which had pre-orders to the tune of 600,000. Now of course this is a good bragging point for Apple, showing that the “greatest iPhone we’ve ever made” sold 400,000 more units the same amount of time than the previous model, but when looking into the specifics of these numbers, they’re not as shocking as they’d seem at first glance.
When the iPhone 4 launched in June of 2010, it was an exclusive for AT&T in the United States, and it was only available in one color, black, and two sizes, 16 and 32gb. With these limited options, the result was 600,000 units pre-ordered in 24hours.
Fast forward to October 2011. Sprint (which has never had an iPhone before) and Verizon are now on the carrier list with AT&T, its launching in both black and white, and has added an increased capacity 64gb model. Even with all of these increased options, only 1,000,000 units were pre-ordered (obviously 1mm units is an astronomical amount, but lets keep it in perspective).
So when putting it into perspective, is the 1,000,000 pre-order really that impressive when comparing to the astronomical number of 600,000 on just one carrier a year ago? I’d venture to say no, its really not as impressive as it seems. Even with drastically more configuration options, availability on the 3 largest carriers in the US, and the ever-exponentially-increasing number of people moving to smartphones (read: market share slices aren’t getting smaller, the pie is getting bigger), the orders are only up 400,000.
Given the updates and options this time around, I personally would have expected much higher pre-order numbers. Here are a few reasons why. First off, AT&T is throwing contract-renewal $200 upgrades to nearly every iPhone 4 owner. If you’re on AT&T and bought the iPhone 4 in 2010, you’re more than likely being offered the subsidized 4S. Second, I would assume that many potential iPhone buyers on Verizon would have held off on the iPhone 4 launch in February in order to buy the next iPhone. Verizon hadn’t ever really released good numbers for the iPhone 4 sales, and it was quite a soft launch. Because of this, we’d expect the 4S sales numbers on Verizon to be quite large. Lastly, this is the first iPhone to ever hit Sprint. Although Sprint is much smaller than Verizon and AT&T, the pent-up demand for the iPhone among customers on Sprint has to be astronomically high. Sprint is offering $70 unlimited (!!!) plans with the iPhone 4s, and most people who have been on Sprint with their early Android offerings from 2010 are due for a contract upgrade at this point.
Only time can tell how the overall sales numbers will be in the coming months, but looking at these pre-order numbers, I’m far from blown away.