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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

The projected shortages of the iPhone 5S — which quickly became reality online, and by Sunday morning had spread to Apple's retail chain — may have also contributed to the rush for the flagship, as prospective buyers made a beeline to stores to grab one while the grabbing was good.

Apple's new gold-accented iPhone 5S sold out first, said White, while the silver model went next fastest. "The low quantities of gold and silver iPhone 5S stock received by the Apple retail stores may speak to greater difficulty in manufacturing these colors," White speculated.

But Sameer Singh, a mobile technology analyst who writes at Tech-Thoughts, believed the mix would flip to the lower-cost iPhone 5C in a matter of a few months. "Most consumers who wanted to buy a device on launch weekend were early adopters/enthusiasts," Singh said in an email interview. "The high-end model would have appealed to them."

Mainstream consumers, Singh said, would not rush to be first, but over time would drive sales of the iPhone 5C above that of the 5S.

Singh also noted the difficulty in estimating sales of the two phones, even though the anecdotal evidence leaned toward the iPhone 5S. "There's no real data to estimate the sales mix, comprised of direct sales to end users from Apple and sales to channel partners," said Singh. "This is complicated because of differing inventory patterns between the two models. The iPhone 5S is mostly sold out (similar to previous launches), but the iPhone 5C remains widely available."

Singh cited estimates by others who had pegged end user sales 2.6 to 1 in favor of the iPhone 5S, but who had also claimed Apple sold 3.5 million iPhone 5C smartphones to carrier partners, which were stocking up in the expectation that consumers would flock to the lower-priced model.

"But there's no way to confirm that," Singh pointed out.

Monday's numbers boosted Apple's share price by 5%, as the stock closed up $23.23 for the day, reaching $490.64, the highest closing price since Sept. 10, the day the company introduced the new iPhones.


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