Poll: did opening weekend iPhone 5 sales disappoint?

You may have heard that the “boring” iPhone 5 sold five million units during its first weekend on availability in nine major markets. Apple also announced that a hundred million iOS devices are now running iOS 6. But even as Apple notes that “we sold out of our initial supply” of iPhones while promising to “regularly” stock retail stores, first-weekend sales came in below the six million units estimated by analyst Gene Munster (ten million was his best case scenario). As a result, Apple’s shares are down two percent in pre-market trading, perhaps indicating that Wall Street was expecting Cook & Co. to perform slightly better…

The new iPhone sold a million more units compared to the opening weekend of its predecessor, the iPhone 4S, which sold four million units.

Don’t hit the ejection handle yet: a slight decrease in Apple’s shares is in response to higher numbers analysts were expecting, but it is evident from both Apple’s press release and shipping estimates that the company could have sold many more units had its manufacturing partners been able to up their output.

Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty, on the other hand, thinks Apple will report 25 million iPhones (all models) in the September quarter and twice as much in the December quarter. She also expects Cupertino to ship a whopping 200 million iPhones in 2013 – and these are conservative estimates as Apple could see “significant upside if component constraints improve”.

Today, we’re asking you to weigh in on those numbers.

Pretend to be an analyst for a second.

Say your clients had millions invested in shares of Apple.

Would you tell them in your note to unload shares or keep pouring money into AAPL?

In other words, would you deem that five million iPhone 5 units during the opening weekend a disappointment?

The fact that Foxconn, Apple’s favorite manufacturing partner, closed its iPhone 5 plant following a mass brawl this morning won’t help either. Good thing Pegatron is also making iPhones. Apple’s fourth fiscal quarter ends on September 30 and earnings should reveal if high opening weekend demand is sustainable in the long run.

In addition to initially launching in nine major markets on September 22 (the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore), the iPhone 5 arrives in an additional 22 countries this coming Friday, September 28: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Apple is planning to have the handset available in over a hundred countries by year’s end.

As for Munster and his 6-10M estimate, which is now the cause of a one percent stock drop this morning, he explains what went wrong:

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.

Hm, not sure how exactly Munster knows that Apple’s numbers exclude online pre-orders.

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.

So you weaseled your way out of this by blaming pre-orders?

How convenient.

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.

Gee, I should have been an analyst.

Tim Cook said in Apple’s release that “demand for iPhone 5 has been incredible and we are working hard to get an iPhone 5 into the hands of every customer who wants one as quickly as possible”.

While we have sold out of our initial supply, stores continue to receive iPhone 5 shipments regularly and customers can continue to order online and receive an estimated delivery date. We appreciate everyone’s patience and are working hard to build enough iPhone 5s for everyone.

What I don’t quite get is this: how can the company be “sold out of our initial supply” of iPhones and at the same time be “regularly stocking stores”?

Can anyone help me out with that?