The sales pattern of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c closely resemble the mix in 2012 of the then-new iPhone 5 and the year-old iPhone 4s, an analyst said today, acknowledging that overeager investors will interpret the data to claim that the former or the latter – or both – are failures.
The survey results from Chicago-based research company Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) confirmed the early reports that the flagship iPhone 5s outsold the less expensive, but still new, iPhone 5c in the opening days after their 20 September debuts.
According to CIRP, 64 percent of the early iPhone buyers snatched the iPhone 5s, while 27 percent picked the iPhone 5c. The remaining nine percent chose the iPhone 4s, which Apple retained in its line-up at a non-subsidised price of $529, and which US carriers that offer subsidies gave away with a two-year contract.
Those numbers were close to 2012′s, when 68 percent of the first-wave customers bought the then-new iPhone 5, while 23 percent and nine percent selected the iPhone 4s and iPhone 4, respectively.
“The ‘Investorate’ expectations are so high, they want the 5c to be the mainstream iPhone,” said Levin. “And after the launch of the iPhone 5 last year, which was not as relatively popular – and which caused Apple to suffer a little bit – they see these numbers [with the decline in the share mix of the 5s] as just another repeat of the iPhone 5 launch.”
What’s forgotten by those observers, said Levin, is the smartphone landscape changes over the last 12 months. The upper end of the smartphone market is more competitive now than then, he argued.
“Two years ago, the iPhone 4s sold about 70 percent of the year’s iPhones,” Levin said, citing other CIRP data. “Last year, the iPhone 5 [accounted] for about 50 percent of the year’s unit.”
Looking at the initial sales split, Levin said he would bet on the iPhone 5s‘s share looking much like the iPhone 5′s of the year before. “We would expect iPhone sales to follow the pattern of the year-ago launch,” he said.
If accurate, Apple’s margin for this 12-month cycle should be flat compared to the period prior, and the average selling price (ASP) of the iPhone should remain stable.
Without a fly on the wall at Apple’s Cupertino, California headquarters, it’s impossible to know how the company scoped out its iPhone year. The company may have had higher expectations for the iPhone 5c, which Levin noted was a first-ever investment, in that the firm has never had two new models to sell simultaneously.
Other analysts disagree with Levin’s take on how the 2013-14 iPhone cycle, and the share splits of the various models, will turn out.
And others, including another independent, Ben Thompson, and IDC’s Kevin Restivo, are on record as viewing the iPhone 5c not as a product meant to blow off the doors, but one that first of all cements Apple as a luxury brand and, second, is aimed at helping boost total annual unit sales by 17 percent to 21 percent over the previous generation.
“The important thing to remember,” said Levin, “is there are a lot of people who overlook the number of iPhones that Apple sells, and that it has a built-in base of customers who buy, and buy a lot.”
by Gregg Keizer, Computerworld