While certainly a strong showing for Apple, the figure is below the 6 million iPhone 5 units Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster expected Apple to sell in the worst case. For the entirety of September, Munster expects Apple to sell around 8 to 10 million units, while other analysts predict 10 to 12 million units sold.
Apple also announced that more than 100 million iOS devices have upgraded to the latest version of its mobile OS, iOS 6, which was released last week.
Last year, Apple sold 4 million units of the iPhone 4S in its launch weekend. But the iPhone 5 will rack up sales over the next few weeks faster than its predecessor, as Apple has managed to roll it out internationally faster than any iPhone before. The iPhone 5 will hit countries including Italy, Ireland, New Zealand, and Sweden on September 28.
Update: Munster released the following statement to explain his missed projection (via MacRumors):
We believe there are two factors that negatively impacted the number. First, our sales expectation assumed that Apple would include all phones pre-ordered online. We believe that this may have been up to 1 million additional units as units pre-ordered after the middle of the first day were projected to be available in October. Second, we noted 1.25 days of Apple Retail inventory compared to 2.5 days during the 4S launch. Our 8 million estimate assumed full weekend availability and the counting of all online pre-orders. We believe that if supply were not a constraint and Apple included all pre-orders, the launch weekend number would have been closer to 7-8 million, assuming ~1 million October pre-order sales and an additional 1-2 million units at retail.
Photo: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat