Categories

Measuring iPhone 5 vs. iPhone 4S availability

In 2011 Apple increased the availability of the iPhone by adding operators. In 2012 Apple increased availability by bringing the phone to operators more quickly. The question is: how much did iPhone 5 availability increase, exactly?

There is a way to find out. As an approximation, Apple periodically reports the availability of new iPhones by country. For example, Apple stated that they reached 100 countries for the iPhone 5 before 2012 ended. They also gave similar launch data for the iPhone 4S. Graham Spencer did a good job showing how country roll-outs changed over time.

However, country-level availability is not ideal because countries vary greatly in their ability to absorb iPhones. Announcing availability in Mauritius is not nearly as important as announcing Madagascar. A better measure would be to track the countries’ populations being added, or, better still, the populations which subscribe to operators who have a distribution contract with Apple.

Which is what is shown in the following graph:

Screen Shot 2013-01-15 at 1-15-2.29.36 PM

I plotted the “potential buyers” as the number of subs addressed by iPhone-carrying operators in the launch countries according to the time when the launches happened. I did so for the iPhone 4S in 2011 and the iPhone 5 in 2012[1].

Now we can address availability as the area under each of these lines.[2] The figure for the iPhone 4S adds up to be 100 billion “subscriber-days”[3] and for the iPhone 5 it’s 130 billion subscriber-days during Q4 2011 and Q4 2012, respectively.

That’s a handy measure: the iPhone 5 was 30% more available than the iPhone 4S. The big contribution was having China and Indonesia available during the fourth quarter rather than in January 2011.

There are a few observations which follow:

First, note that the increase in availability (area between the orange and blue lines) occurred both early and late in the quarter. The early period was mostly due to early launch in the US and the later period was due to earlier launch into China.  China buying patterns are different than those in the US due to differing festive seasons so the bulk of Chinese buying may not happen during the fourth quarter.

However, delivery of product to China started earlier and there was a burst of buying (two million units in three days.)

Production should follow the availability schedule so it would be sensible to reduce production once the pipeline is full. Note that supplier cuts rumors surfaced right around the increased availability date of mid-December. Last year the rumors surfaced in November.

Increased availability does not always lead to increased sales but the iPhone 5 was constrained for longer than the iPhone 4S so it’s possible that demand was therefore higher.

Increased distribution does not always mean increased production. However, Apple’s investment in production tooling doubled year/year so there is a possibility that production did increase.

Notes:

  1. Subscriber data is approximate. See addressable market discussion here.
  2. The measurements are for the calendar quarter only, as bounded by the vertical lines.
  3. A subscriber-day is a measure of availability where one subscriber has access to buy the product for one day.
  • http://twitter.com/wjv Johann Visagie

    It’s worth noting (again) that the iPhone 5 is not yet quite a global LTE phone. Here in Germany, for instance, only one of its three LTE frequencies is supported, and that only by ex-monopolist Deutsche Telekom through their T-Mobile subsidiary… which only has awful, consumer-unfriendly contracts for the data-intensive user.

    In Europe in general, many iPhone 5 buyers effectively get a 3G device, which lowers its value proposition vis-à-vis the 4S. I’m sure this is a temporary problem, though; it’s typically the sort of thing on would expect Apple to address during the “tock” of the current generation.

  • http://nmuppala.wordpress.com Nalini Kumar Muppala

    You might want to update the timeline labels to remove year 2011.

    • http://twitter.com/asymco Horace Dediu

      Done.

  • http://www.isophist.com/ Emilio Orione

    On January 23 Apple will announce quarter results. Usually there is a boost of value for Apple’s stocks after the announce.
    This is the perfect time to manipulate stock, lower AAPL value as much as possible, buy and count your earnings after the boost.

    So cuts rumors may not be correlated to real cuts in production, these could or could not have happened even in november, the right time for the announce is now, facts have nothing to do with it.

    Not only WSY cuts rumors are part of the campaign, other articles trying to lower apple’s value are showing around, like Zeman’s for Information Week and others.

    So correlation between rumors and real production can not be significant.

    • Ittiam

      Ahhhh, all these rumors and manipulation is making predicting Apple stock much more difficult…

    • r.d

      if Apple cares than they can buy back stock.
      they don’t have to release a PR.

      • http://www.isophist.com/ Emilio Orione

        They can not release a PR, sorry SEC rules, quiet period.
        I think this is part of the perfect rumors planning.
        I have also found hilarious articles about the samsung galaxy 5 that will perhaps be on market in 4 or 5 months but it is already (even before announce) more popular than the iPhone 5s (not even rumored, no launch date) so more popular to put apple in crisis (no kidding a major italian paper, Il corriere della sera, says today exactly something like that).
        This is not journalism, is stupid marketing money or smart stock manipulation, as you like.

      • http://www.facebook.com/simonpcampbell Simon Campbell

        There is no SEC rule requiring a quiet period for earning, nor a recommendation. Companies do observe it as a convention and will state that they cannot release information, but that is entirely by choice.

      • JohnDoey

        That is like saying Apple has free speech, they can say what they want. The reality is, 99% of the things they could say might lead to prosecution. Public companies do a quiet period because anything else is too risky. Not worth it.

      • rational2

        There is no upside in Apple, or for that matter any company, quashing routine rumors speculating on business conditions. If they start doing that, the rumors will become even more frequent and wild, giving competitors and analysts a way of demanding information from Apple. We will get numbers and a Q&A with management in about a week.

  • Simon

    Off the main topic, but I think worth discussing:

    “Announcing availability in Mauritius is not nearly as important as announcing Madagascar”

    Presumably due to Mauritius having only 5% of the population of Madagascar? ( 1.2 million, vs. 22 million ). But then, the GDP per capita of Madagascar is ~$450 per year – does it matter if the iPhone 5 is available in a country where virtually no one can afford to buy one? Mauritius on the other hand with a GDP of ~$8,500 seems a better prospect. In fact, total sales in these two countries may well be similar.

    Mauritius & Madagascar, are perhaps not too interesting in the grand scheme, but this also needs to be considered for China, India etc. Whilst China has 1.3 billion people and over a million millionaires, the per capita GDP is only $6,000. Most will never own an iPhone. India with a per capita GDP of only $1,300, even more so.

    • m20130115w

      the graph should be fine for comparison purpose, between 4s and 5.

    • mieswall

      Not so out of topic. For analysis purposes, it may be better to have population weighted in some way by income, including some minimum threshold that would allow people to buy an iphone. Btw, that was my point in another post here regarding China and “low cost” phones.

      • http://twitter.com/handleym99 Maynard Handley

        As has been said before, it is foolish to project US modalities onto these purchases. What I mean is that in the US one thinks of an iPhone first and foremost as a phone (with a nice UI). Whereas in a poorer country, your smartphone may be thought of, first and foremost, as my first PC. I’ve mentioned before how my tour guide, in Indonesia, basically ran his business through his Blackberry. With that in mind, there were people buying PCs in the US back when PCs cost say $2500.

        The bigger issue, I think, is not that smartphones look expensive compared to income, it’s that Apple MAY be seeing in these countries a replay of the Mac vs Windows wars of the 80s and 90s, when they (for the most part) simply did not make available as low-end a product as was available with Windows. People who wanted a Mac, and were even willing to pay more for it simply could not handle the gulf between Mac prices and PC prices.
        This situation has mostly changed in the US now, as prices have become low enough (and with the existence of a large second hand market through eBay) that most people who really want a Mac can afford one; but in a place like China, the analogy strikes me as relevant.

        The question, then, is will Apple handle this differently from how they handled the 80s and 90s? IMHO, as I have said before, an updated 3GS with maybe a single A6 core, 512MB of RAM, maybe only HSPA, no HSPA+ (depends on what is commonly available through the relevant telcos), maybe only 802.11g or 2.4GHz 802.11n, maybe plastic case, AND sold only in these countries, would make a lot of sense, and would remain a reasonable developer target.

        (The real issue would be what sort of deals Apple can swing with Broadcom and Qualcomm to negotiate WiFi and HSPA(+) that are as capable as possible but as cheap as possible.
        Wild suggestion: Apple, alone or perhaps working with Intel, uses this low-end phone with low-end wireless to unveil ITS WiFi and/or HSPA and/or Bluetooth cells! Obviously the more in the phone that can be Apple sourced ala A6, the more high-end a phone Apple can produce on a give budget.)

      • Walt French

        Two lines of reason along which we might guess how Apple will proceed.

        First, Win-v-Mac: As an enthusiast, I owned a personal, 16-bit computer before the IBM PC and can tell you that the approximately $5000 that a good machine cost (from approximately 1978 to 1988) was a strong deterrent to takeup. It was perhaps 1/4 of a median earner’s income, the equivalent of about $12K today.

        Never mind that the Macs had high-priced bitmapped screens that could do what no IBM machine of the era would, NEITHER of them were viable expenditures for either actual home use (recipes on floppy disks?!?) or businesses that didn’t have the infrastructure to sling information, etc around. Of course nobody paid much more than they had to, unless they were enthusiasts.

        That was the environment for the PC-vs-Mac era: businesses bought PCs because they were the only affordable way to tackle most of their functions. Today, in wealthy countries, the cost differences between post-PCs are relatively minor — maybe 1% of a median income — and correlate well with usability and functionality. In defining the market, Apple has positioned for widespread adoption, which was never an option with early Macs.

        Second, the issue with developing nations’ incomes: People pose the question about Apple as if countries such as China haven’t been HUGE opportunities for Western (and more-developed Asian) businesses. Buick, VW, Lexus, BMW all doing well in autos despite their “luxury” status vis-. The cars that the Chinese buy are NOT in competition with US cars for all sorts of reasons; a sale to a Chinese customer is NOT a lost sale to an Australian.

        The barrier is rather the lack of infrastructure for data that would support having a post-PC in your pocket. Today, only the wealthy do so because you can’t get much extra value out of an iPhone without data, and a high-priced strategy doesn’t limit your sales (while enhancing its status). Once there are enough “roads” for iPhones

  • ronin48

    Horace,

    If you define availability based only on “the number of subs addressed by iPhone-carrying operators in the launch countries,” don’t you ignore an important group for which the iPhone is available?

    For many launch countries, there are many potential iPhone customers with non-Apple subscribers who are available to switch to the iPhone carrying operator upon launch of the new iPhone and/or the new carrier. This is especially significant when not only the latest iPhone model, but the iPhone itself, is relatively new to the country.

    Wouldn’t it be better to define availability roughly as, for example, the approximate population residing within the coverage area of the iPhone-carrying operator? This would then count all the potentially available iPhone buyers instead of just counting those who are already with the iPhone-carrying operator.

    In other words, why ignore what we know will happen: buyers who switch from a non-Apple operator to an iPhone-carrying operator just to get the iPhone? And we know the flow -especially upon launch – is towards the iPhone, not away, so any movement away from iPhone carriers can be ignored. That is, we know an iPhone launch does not drive subs away. It certainly can’t drive away subs in a new market as there aren’t any to begin with.

    P.S. I read your November addressable market post and understand how that method works to describe current market penetration as a percent of a total global or national market. But with the question of rate of availability after launch, it would seem that looking only at subs of iPhone carrying operators as the only potential buyers of a new phone misses significant numbers of potential and eventual buyers. This error would be compounded when the increase populations available in new
    launch markets exceeds the relative growth in the number of new countries and carriers.

    P.P.S. If we could examine at what happens in each country to carrier sub growth and market share after a carrier becomes and iPhone carrier or launches a new iPhone we might better measure how many new iPhone buyers typically come from another carriers vs those who are existing subs who had been on a non-Apple phone.

  • obarthelemy

    Horace, you’re assuming several things wrongly in your assessment of iPhone real availability:
    1- customers *don’t* have to have a iPhone-reselling carrier to be able to use/buy an iPhone. In France for example, 75% of phone purchases are contract-free, independent of network carriers offerings and subsidies, not so much because people use post-paid, but because no-subsidies pre-paid contracts are much cheaper. Counting only customersof networks who do resell the iPhone wrongly lowers the iPhone’s real availability.
    2- people *can* switch carriers if they really want a specific subsidized phone. French example again: if you’re amongst the 25% percent who still buy their phone subsidized and linked to a 2-yr contract, after the first year the penalty for breaking that contract is very cheap compared to the price of an iPhone (less than 20%), and more than covered by the resale price of your previous but still current phone.
    3- if people really want an iPhone, they can buy an unlocked one anyway.

    • http://twitter.com/handleym99 Maynard Handley

      Horace is ALWAYS interested in the business aspects of things, not the geek/pushing the envelope aspect.

      People do not, in bulk, buy iPhones on the assumption that they can follow some or other unusual path to get the thing to work — they buy phones the way other people in their country buy phones. So in France, yes, maybe things are different, but in most of the world people buy the phone that has been vetted to work with their carrier. And there are generally good reasons for doing so.
      In the US, for example, yes you can make an iPhone work on various MVNO networks, but you lose LTE and visual voicemail. You can make an iPhone work on T-Mobile, but until recently you lost HSPA.

      And similarly in other countries. You may be willing to give up LTE on iPhone in a country, but are you willing to give up HSPA and use only EDGE or WCDMA?

      Your comment is like an argument about the iOS experience on a jail-broken phone. Yes, it exists, but it is not relevant to Apple’s sales figures.

      • obarthelemy

        I *am* describing general market conditions in France. 75% of regular people (not geeks) buy no-contract phones at retail.Many young adults (not geeks) break contracts early to get the latest and greatest phone. Nobody uses visual voicemail.

        I don’t know about other markets, but in this markets i *do* know, the calculation methodology doesn’t work.

      • Walt French

        Horace used carriers’ subscriber bases as a measure of cross-country sizing, having found both population and GDP wanting. It’s a good fudge factor for both wealthy and larger, lower-income nations where Apple is not supported by a dominant carrier.

        Every single country will have some reason why the metric is too crude, but the question is, does it get the essence of how many people might buy different iPhone models in the months after it became available? If it does that approximately well, then we can disaggregate sales by quarter into a measure of how popular the different models actually were. And per the credo here of “show your work,” many of us would be pleased to see your contribution by suggesting better measures that are available around the globe.

      • Tim F.

        Horace is attempting to construct the simplest, most reliable, most easy to understand mini-model, so to speak, in order to explore a couple of questions and arrive at some reasonable guesses based on the evidence expressed in that model.

        Sometimes trying to calculate for every variable actually makes a model less stable, less predictive.

  • http://twitter.com/chicocan1 Michael C.

    I’m a little confused as to the graph – it looks like the iPhone 5 was available before the 4S … this graph is in absolute dates not “days since launch” so shouldn’t the 4S have a much longer “tail” going to the left on this graph?

    • jawbroken

      Absolute dates, but in different years.

  • JonathanU

    Horace – you had an excellent post last year when the 4S was announced calculating the number of 3GS sales there were and given the 2 year upgrade cycle they would be coming round to upgrading, hence leading to sales. Is it time to update the chart for iPhone4 sales to see the potential market and how that will drive sales growth for the 5?

  • http://twitter.com/M_Gauche James King

    Looks like Apple is taking a beating in the media. The WSJ article about “lower demand” for the iPhone 5 has gone viral and BGR has reported that teens no longer think Apple is “cool.” How long do you think this type of press has to continue before it starts to materially impact Apple’s sales? A few years perhaps?

    Apple’s stock is cratering. It’s moving beyond “correction” territory and becoming a trend. The PERCEIVED strength of Apple’s competition is starting to impact the actual strengths of iOS. Gee, how is this happening? Is it because all of the criticism is objective? Or are certain things being presented out of context and then pushed over and over again as “news”?

    This is all starting to look familiar.

    • Sacto_Joe

      What’s going on in the stock market vis-a-vis Apple stock is pretty much off topic, but does give me a bandwagon to push my favorite solution; a massive stock buyback this year. At a P/E that’s lower than it was in the depths of the Great Recession, currently 10.99, Apple will find no better place to park its cash than in its own stock. For long-term holders of stock, the resulting “anti-dilution” would be highly welcome in its own right. And should Apple be forced to repatriate cash in order to do so, buying back stock is preferable for shareholders to the double-taxation of increased dividends.

      • David Ryder

        Sounds like a good idea.

      • Sacto_Joe

        Actually, as a poster on another site pointed out, the smart thing for Apple’s Board to do might be to borrow to the hilt now while interest rates are low AND use up repatriated cash. I figure that would be good for a warchest of at least a $100 billion this year, maybe $150 billion. I’d also make it a point to institute a “sustaining” buy back any time the P/E dropped below 13.

      • Tatil_S

        It already has a ~$100 billion war chest. If it knew where to put that much money profitably, it would not keep it in cash and short term securities. What good would it do to have another $100 billion on a temporary basis?

      • http://sharonsharalike.com/ Sharon Sharalike

        If they can manage to get loan commitments of six or seven hundred billion they could try to buy the whole company back. If I were Tim Cook, and *if* I knew that everything was actually just fine and growing, that’s what I’d do.

        Of course what would actually happen is that the stock would rocket up, the shorts would be destroyed, and all the news would suddenly be about how amazingly well the company is doing.

    • JohnDoey

      That kind of press goes on 24/7 about Apple. It has been going on for 30 years. iPad is counted as an iPod, not a PC. Apple is cast as flighty and untrustworthy when they are the oldest PC maker. There are consumers who still avoid Apple because some faux-butch screwdriver tech guy told them Apple systems were toys.

      The good news is that this is already factored into the demand. As usual, when Apple releases numbers, many analysts will be revealed as liars and stock manipulators, which makes them a first-class citizen in the US. A Senator will go in person to their home and kiss their butt.

    • Walt French

      Yeah, there are SOME people who buy a phone because it’s cool, as opposed to thinking that it’s cool because of what you can do with it. There’s that.

      But most of us depend on more substantive experiences than a survey of teenagers, only a small fraction of whom have actually seen anything about the Surface (the BGR “cool” product) other than the frenetic TV ads. I’ll go out on a limb and guess that in the next 12 months, the number of teens who get their parents to buy them a Surface will be far less than 1% of those who get an iPad, Nexus or something else. Of course, we’ve never heard of this particular survey that BGR tossed our way, so no way of knowing how it actually tracks purchases yet. But the anecdotes about Surface sales are such that nobody in Cupertino is losing sleep yet.

      Now on the perceived competition, you absolutely have something. Nokia has reported that its WP8 devices got good acceptance in Europe (their ONLY high-income market of note), and the company has stopped bleeding cash. RIM has done a nice job with the PR machine lately, too; I think it’s a safe bet that they won’t flub the BB10 functionality as horrendously as they did their tablet, and people will look into them, too.

      So now, although in 2009–mid-2012, Apple demolished every phone and tablet competitor not named “Samsung,” there are new competitors, while Samsung is stronger than ever. But realistically, there’s no evidence that customers will favor those platforms enough to cut meaningfully into Apple sales or growth. Windows8 uptake is slow, limiting Microsoft’s efforts to leverage its desktop positioning onto WP8; BlackBerry is positioning a 1.0 offering with paltry app and media stores and limited services (synch, etc) against mature products—only its name and largely-foresaken messaging systems are mature. As Horace has opined, there’s no reason to expect they’ll disappear, but they are competing against Apple on Apple’s turf, with limited asymmetric advantages.

      One of the analyst’s toughest questions is how much a single company’s fortunes parallel, or compete with others. Here, I think that observers looking at development efforts outside of iOS see no enhancements, and read that as suggesting a slowdown in Apple rather than as Apple’s continuing advantage. They see extremely weak Surface sales and question whether those sales are going to Nexus, Kindle, or Apple, and apparently assume better to assume Apple is having the same troubles, rather than taking sales from Microsoft. The little bit of data we DO see — carrier sales figures; app store revenue/download figures, etc. — suggest to me that Apple is continuing its dominance, although there is enough uncertainty that figures — which we’ll see shortly — might be weaker than the cheerleaders are forecasting.

      Stock prices are hard to figure out and I’ve never seen evidence that they fed into popular perceptions as much as they were SWAGs of possible earnings down the road, driven by guesses about future perceptions rather than the other way ’round. If you have some data to show how stock price causality goes the other way, it’d be interesting to review it.

      • http://twitter.com/M_Gauche James King

        I think you want to engage me in a strawman argument. I’m not a supporter of any of the recent press re: Apple. To the contrary. My point, as it was re: RIM, is that perception is being influenced by the media, largely the financial media in this case. I’m not the only one who thinks Apple has been getting a raw deal either:

        http://daringfireball.net/linked/2013/01/15/hard-to-fool

        http://www.forbes.com/sites/markrogowsky/2013/01/15/did-the-wsj-get-punkd-on-apple-or-is-it-rotten-to-the-core/

        Apple stock is taking a beating right now but there is little evidence to support the pessimism. But, if Apple comes out with numbers that support the pessimism, everyone is going to act as if the sentiment was correct even though there was no INITIAL evidence to support it. In other words, anyone selling stock right now is making what amounts to a random bet on the current viability of Apple’s business. That fact won’t change even if they are correct and Apple does show real evidence of weakness.

        One more thing I’d like to address is your notion that MOST people make rational decisions. This is false, research has overwhelmingly shown the opposite:

        http://uxmyths.com/post/2607991907/myth-29-people-are-rational

        The herd mentality in humans has been proven over and over again. That’s why it’s illegal to yell “Fire!” in a movie theatre. People will run first before confirming that there is indeed a fire.

      • Walt French

        We’re not communicating very well. Your point that I disagreed with was the suggestion that press reports (“How long do you think this type of press has to continue…?”) and silly surveys (“teens no longer think Apple is ‘cool.’”) would impact sales.

        Yes, because I took those points as far-fetched, I thought your reason for bringing them up was to endorse them. Apologies.

        Meanwhile, I don’t think I said anything like “MOST people make rational decisions,” as you claim. I *DO* believe that the benefit of Asymco is that individuals *CAN* better inform themselves, and try out hypotheses in a friendly environment, so that they CAN. I’m actually a bit of a behavioralist and recognize how many people make poor decisions when appropriately tempted, but believe that our society and markets generally keep people from going too far astray.

      • http://twitter.com/M_Gauche James King

        “Your point that I disagreed with was the suggestion that press reports (“How long do you think this type of press has to continue…?”) and silly surveys (“teens no longer think Apple is ‘cool.’”) would impact sales.” – Walt French

        Ultimately, it will. There’s a fallacious notion that Apple receives a preponderance of negative press but the overwhelming majority of Apple press has been positive for at least the last decade. That has changed recently. If the tone of the press towards Apple persists, especially if Apple shows even a faint trace of weakness in its business, it will turn into a vicious spiral. It may take years but the impact will eventually be felt.

        “Meanwhile, I don’t think I said anything like “MOST people make rational decisions,” as you claim.” – Walt French

        Your words:

        “But most of us depend on more substantive experiences than a survey of teenagers, only a small fraction of whom have actually seen anything about the Surface (the BGR “cool” product) other than the frenetic TV ads.”

        If this statement was in regards to only those who participate on this forum, that wasn’t clear. It reads as if you are making a general statement. In that regards, it is simply not accurate.

        “I’m actually a bit of a behavioralist and recognize how many people
        make poor decisions when appropriately tempted, but believe that our society and markets generally keep people from going too far astray.” – Walt French

        I provide a link that contained several other links to research that refutes your point. Laws rein in irrational behavior but, in turn, become irrational themselves which is one of the main reasons no society has ever persisted indefinitely. As for markets, I think there are a ton of gross examples when irrationality took over. It’s specious to think that the behavior ultimately averages out to a net positive. The system just hasn’t fallen down around our ears yet.

      • JDL

        “MOST people will run first before confirming that there is indeed a fire.”

        That is because most people are making a rational decision. The downside is minor inconvenience vs getting burnt to death.

      • http://twitter.com/M_Gauche James King

        If it was rational, they would understand that stampeding for the exit in a crowded, dark theatre significantly lowers their chances of survival. There is nothing rational about hysteria and panic.

  • rupertstubbs

    Agreeing with Johann Visagie – the fact that the network I’m on in the UK (Vodafone) won’t have a 4G network until at least this autumn means that my interest in the iPhone 5 (and having to update all my chargers, docks, etc.) is significantly lessened.

    The fact that my 4S still seems to work rather well makes it harder to justify, too – and when I upgraded from the 4 to the 4S, it didn’t look like conspicuous consumption, either.

    • JohnDoey

      Apple doesn’t need you or any other 4S buyer to buy a 5, though. The 5 is for users of 4 and earlier, who will see a dramatic improvement in every single component and feature as they go to a 5.

      • rupertstubbs

        True – but previously I HAD upgraded every year, because I could see a compelling reason to do so. This year, not so much. In fact, it’s hard for me to see what I would want from a 5S – speed isn’t an issue, so it would be a significant camera advance and noticeably longer battery life that would be the swingers.

    • Tim F.

      Apple doesn’t expect your upgrade cycle to be annual. They hope, work towards, and usually achieve customers with a quicker upgrade cycle affording higher revenue and greater margin than the rates of its competitors.

  • Paul

    Come on guys. Instead of picking apart the analysis, take it for what it is. It’s a high level look at the increased availability of the iPhone 5. Accounting for minor factors like a few people switching carriers or buying unlocked phones would be a near impossible task and in my estimation would not make much of a difference to the end result. I think what Horace has done is a good proxy to measure the increase in availability.

    Combine the 30% increase in availability with the overall growth in the smartphone market and Apple is set to comfortably beat 50M iPhones.

    • http://sharonsharalike.com/ Sharon Sharalike

      Yes, and it’s only half of the picture. It’s a picture of customer availability, not phones. The other half is how many phones Apple could build. That information isn’t publicly known.

  • Alex Park

    Maybe talks with China Mobile didn’t go smooth … thus the cancellation of 5~8 million LCDs… which is the possible size of MOQ for China Mobile…

    • http://www.noisetech-software.com/Home.html Steven Noyes

      Maybe Apple did not cut their orders for LCDs. We simply do not know.

  • Greg

    Horace- it is surprising that the number of addressable subscribers shows little YoY growth. The rollout as a fraction of subs is greater, but does this analysis include underlying subs growth?

    If you further assume a mix shift toward smartphones and 3G penetration, doesn’t a 30% increase in subscriber days dramatically understate the implied unit sales at a constant market share?

    How do you reconcile this with your expected unit sales figure for the quarter?

  • bbn

    iPad Mini supply – demand balance? I haven’t seen must discussion of the iPad Mini supply-demand. In the US, the apple online store still says it takes 1 week to ship all models and also limits customers to 2 iPad minis. The 4th gen iPad and iPad 2 and iPhone 5 all do not have any limits and say “in stock”. Is iPad mini demand “off the charts”? are there unique production problems? my guess is that there is both very high demand and some production challenges since it is a new form factor – yields may be low. The parts for the 4th gen iPad are mostly parts used in the 3rd gen iPad, and the iPad 2 has been around a very long time…

    • Get

      I think ipad mini sales will be off the charts. No insights other than it seems like every kid I know wants one.

  • Pingback: iPhone 5 was 30% More Available Than the iPhone 4S « MobileHeadlines.net

  • skeptical of 55m iphones

    If availability was only 30% better vs. last year, and there was one less week in the quarter (13wks vs. 14 last year), how do you get a 48% growth rate (your projection of 55m iphones vs. 37m last year)?

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      Availability was not 128% higher last year for the 4S vs. the 4 the year before. Availability is only one indicator for sales growth.

      • skeptical of 55m iphones

        Yes but based on VZ and ATT numbers, US iphone growth is probably only about 20% y/y. Even if you somehow assume (wildly optimistic), China sold 5m phones in 2 weeks, that would make up 20m in US+China (8m T, 5.3m VZ, ~1.7m Spr. + 5m China). That would give US+China ~58% growth y/y (20m / 12.6m) in this very optimistic scenario. The rest of the world would still need to grow 43%+ to get to 55m phones. That seems unlikely if the US only grew ~20% even with the added availability.

      • skeptical of 55m iphones

        Like I said 55m phones was highly unlikely. If you took VZ and ATT numbers and combined it with the 30% availability increase in your post above, there is no way you come close to a 55m number.

  • ArjunaM

    Very interesting- thanks.
    I’ve estimated that the addressable audience for the iPhone 5 stands at about 5.25BN people (w avg GDP per capita of $14k), simply by country population count and not taking into account the participating carrier subscription data; so well done.

    Slightly off topic, but on the subject of estimating Q1 iPhone activations, and triangulating the numbers from Flurry’s activation data, which don’t disaggregate iOS vs Android:
    http://blog.flurry.com/bid/92719/Christmas-2012-Shatters-More-Smart-Device-and-App-Download-Records

    1) There were 4 million iOS/ Android devices activated per day from Dec 1-20

    2) Of these, 80% were smartphones, or 3.2 million

    3) Liberally, Android is activating 2 million devices per day. Why liberally? Because in Sept, they were only activating 1.3 million.

    4) This would imply 1.2 million iPhone activations per day

    5) Ignoring the spike on Christmas Day/ post Christmas, this would imply 1.2 x 31 = 37 million iPhones sold in Dec alone

    6) For Oct and Nov, if activations were half the rate observed in Dec, this would imply ~75 million iPhones activated in the Q

    Sources of conservatism:

    – Flurry claims to only capture “over 90% of activations”

    – the assumption of 2 million Android phones per day may be generous
    and represents a 50% growth rate versus the last announced activation
    figures

    – I give no incremental credit for Christmas Day/ Eve/ New Years

    Open questions:

    – How do iPod touches get counted– hopefully not as phones.

    – Are Flurry’s #s good?

    Please tear into my assumptions/ analysis.

  • Pingback: Apple, i record e le illusioni dei mercati | Hymn to Future