Apple says it sold more than 10 million of the new iPhones in their first weekend on sale, a new company record. While that didn’t include sales to China this time round, it seems a fair number of handsets will be headed there anyway.
The 10 million+ figure covers both the iPhone 6 and the larger-screen iPhone 6 Plus, which Reuters says exceeded analyst estimates of “up to 10 million.” That compares with nine million for the iPhone 5S/5C launch last year, five million for the iPhone 4S and 1.7 million for the iPhone 4.
It certainly suggests the policy of releasing two models at a time is working, though it’s notable that this time Apple went for a “standard and premium” model rather than the “standard and low-budget” combination. Whereas the 16GB on-contract prices of the 5C and 5S were $99 and $199 respectively, the equivalent 6 and 6 Plus models are $199 and $299, so total spending will definitely be higher this year.
The increase in sales comes despite the phone not being available in China at launch weekend; last year Chinese buyers made up two million of the first weekend sales.
The delayed Chinese launch this time round, blamed on regulatory issues, has left a demand gap. Heather White, a filmmaker who has previously covered labor issues in electronic gadget production, says she visited the line outside Apple’s Fifth Avenue store on Saturday, the day after launch.
By Saturday, when the real hardcore early adopters had already got their new phones, White says more than 90 percent of people waiting in line appeared to be Chinese. Most were buying two at a time (the store limit) and many had lined up again to make several purchases.
Based on interviews with some of those in line, Jay estimates that most of these “customers” were being paid $25 a handset to wait in line and make the purchase of the phones, which would eventually wind up for sale in China for several thousand dollars. She says that premium is partly because some people in China want the status of having the phone before it is released, and partly because getting a gray import is considered a relatively safe way of avoiding a counterfeit handset.