Apple’s iPhone 5 Sales ‘Shortfall’ Means Precisely Nothing

Eager buyers crowd Apple’s Palo Alto store shortly after Sept. 21 opening

From my Forbes.com blog The New Persuaders:

Only one company could see its stock fall when it sells 5 million of its newest product in a single weekend: Apple.

Apple said today it sold 5 million iPhone 5s the past three days, and its shares promptly fell $9.30, or about 1.3% on the day. The reason: Analysts had forecast it would sell up to 10 million. Now they’re scrambling to explain what happened.

The correct answer: Nothing. Let’s get real. First of all, it’s not clear that Apple really fell short of any reasonable expectation. As one person noted today, the supposedly disappointing 5 million in iPhone 5 sales in a weekend is more than Nokia sold of its latest Lumia smartphones in an entire quarter. So Apple is hardly losing much ground to competitors.

Second, that 5 million–actually, as Apple put it, “more than 5 million”–doesn’t count people who preordered but haven’t yet received their iPhone 5s. It’s unclear how many that would be, but one analyst estimates it could be 1 million or more, even assuming Apple was correct when it previously said most customers who preordered would get their iPhone 5 last Friday.

Third, while Apple no doubt would like to sell as many iPhone 5s as possible, it so routinely runs short of demand on new products that you have to wonder if that’s part of its marketing plan. Scarcity, at least for a product generally well-reviewed and certainly highly anticipated, suggests to potential buyers on the fence that this is the device they’ve got to have. It’s hard to imagine that Apple, of all companies, doesn’t have the means to fulfill that pent-up demand over the coming weeks and months. …

Read the complete post at The New Persuaders.

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