Apple sold 2 million iPhone 5 in first 24 hours, ‘shattering’ iPhone 4S record

Another confirmation this morning just how fast the new iPhone 5 is selling: Apple says it sold 2 million of the new handsets in just the first 24 hours of availability with demand outstripping supply. Preorders for the slimmer, faster iPhone “have shattered the previous record held by iPhone 4S,” Apple’s marketing head Philip Schiller announced.

Indeed, demand is so off the scale that the Cupertino, Calif. company said the “majority of preorders” will be delivered to buyers on Sept. 21 with new purchases set for delivery in October. Earlier today, AT&T said it set a “sales record with iPhone 5 over the weekend, making it the fastest-selling iPhone the company has ever offered“.

“Customers ordered more iPhones from AT&T than any previous model, both on its first day of preorders and over the weekend,” the US carrier told Reuters.

Lines of anxious iPhone 5 fans have already formed outside the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Consumers began queuing up Sept. 13, according to Fortune. This despite the iPhone 5 not being available in stores until Friday.

Chart via GigaOM

Along with AT&T, Sprint and Verizon Wireless stores will sell the iPhone 5. Retailers Best Buy, Radio Shack, Target and Walmart will also stock the new handset. Apple said it will launch the iPhone 5 in 9 nations this Friday, expanding the number to 22 seven days later for a total of 31 countries by the end of September. In time for the all-important holiday season, the company hopes to offer the new iPhone in 100 countries by December.

What do you think? Is demand for the iPhone 5 being driven by the phone itself or are consumers being swept up in the gotta-have-it spirit that Apple has so perfected around its product launches?