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Early buyers go for iPhone 5S by more than 3 to 1

Gregg Keizer | Sept. 25, 2013
But the lower-priced iPhone 5C will turn the tables within a few months, predicts one analyst

Apple's flagship iPhone 5S outsold the less-expensive iPhone 5C by at least 3 to 1 in the U.S. over the opening weekend, a mobile analytics company claimed Monday.

Wall Street and industry analysts said that the ratio was probably even more in the iPhone 5S' favor.

According to Boston-based Localytics, a mobile and Web app marketing and analytics platform, the pricier iPhone 5S outsold the iPhone 5C by a factor of 3.4 to 1 in the U.S. Globally, the flagship outsold the iPhone 5C by a slightly wider margin of 3.7 to 1.

Localytics measured the ratio by mining data it received from clients' apps installed on approximately 20 million iPhones from Friday, Sept. 20 through Sunday, Sept. 22.

"Early adopters are favoring the high-end 5S compared to the 5C," said the company on its blog Monday. "This makes sense since those who feel the need to buy a new device the very weekend it launches are most likely the power users who want the highest-end phone experience."

While both smartphones were unveiled Sept. 10, Apple only offered online pre-orders for the lower-priced iPhone 5C, holding the iPhone 5S until Friday, when it took online orders starting at 12:01 a.m. PT and opened doors at its retail stores at 8 a.m. local time.

On Monday, Apple said it had sold more than 9 million iPhones — including the iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C and the iPhone 4S, the latter retained from last year — during the three-day opening weekend. That figure was 80% greater than in 2012 when Apple launched the iPhone 5, and set a sales record for the firm. Apple did not break out sales for each model, however.

If Localytics' data was an accurate mirror of the purchasing patterns, it would hint that there has been little cannibalization, at least thus far, of the iPhone 5S by the slightly-cheaper iPhone 5C. Some analysts explained Apple's pricing model — the iPhone 5C came in at a much higher price than virtually every expert predicted — as a defense against the new smartphone suppressing revenue.

One Wall Street analyst pegged a larger disparity between the two new iPhones for in-store purchases.

"Based on our survey work of 126 buyers of the two new iPhones on Friday in New York City, 88% of respondents purchased the iPhone 5S and just 12% the iPhone 5C," said Brian White of Cantor Fitzgerald & Co. in a Monday note to clients.

White credited the overwhelming preference for the iPhone 5S to its unavailability prior to the weekend. "Since the iPhone 5C was available for pre-order on September 13 but the iPhone 5S was not, demand for the iPhone 5S should be much stronger than the iPhone 5C," he wrote [emphasis added].


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