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MacEdition: The iPhone or: How I Learned to Stop Listening to Pundits and Love Steve Jobs

The iPhone or: How I Learned to Stop Listening to Pundits and Love Steve Jobs · 2008-01-25

During Steve Jobs’ keynote, we had some questions about Apple’s iPhone numbers. After all, saying Apple sells 20,000 iPhones a day is stretching the truth a little — a large portion of those were sold during the first week. Still, from the amount of iPhones we see every day, there is no reason to believe that Apple is missing its sales targets… or is there?

Toni Sacconaghi of Bernstein Research is trying to figure out what happened to 1.4 million iPhones. That number comes from the discrepancy between the number of iPhones Apple has said it sold and the number of iPhone activations AT&T claimed for the quarter. Toni Sacc (writing Sacconaghi multiple times is going to get annoying and I miss the Sopranos) estimates that even if 20% of iPhones were purchased to be unlocked, that still leaves almost 700,000 uncounted for.

So, are the analysts on to something, or is this another case of Apple trying to kick people when they are down? Toni Sacc says that 20% of iPhones going to people SIM unlocking their iPhones is a “generous” number because the iPhone 1.1.3 jailbreak has been out only a few days. But anybody who follows the iPhone knows people have been trying to hack it since the first day. And in AT&T’s Q3 conference call the company estimated at least 15% of iPhones were being sold to be unlocked. Back in those days, hacking the iPhone was a much more dedicated affair, and the device was still new.

The process to unlock the iPhone is much easier these days, so we wouldn’t be surprised if the percentage of people buying one to unlock it has gone up significantly in the last three months. The percentage of people unlocking iPhones would have to hover around 30%, but we know there is a a huge black market in China as well as Singapore, India and a lot of other places. And, even though the iPhone has been officially blessed in several places in Europe, the exchange rate still benefits people who buy them here in the United States. All of those numbers add on to the “unofficial” sales numbers.

It is possible that Apple has a huge warehouse somewhere with a million iPhones, or they were counting units shipped to stores, but not yet sold (a method the video game console manufacturers like). We surely wouldn’t be surprised to see another iPhone price drop before the end of the year; some say a price cut is imminent. I am not going to buy into this conspiracy just yet, but I’ll definitely keep listening to what Tony Sacc has to say, and maybe that is what he really wanted in the first place.

— Joe Fahs


  1. It’s not the exchange rate. The iPhone in France is 399 euros, which converts to about 579 dollars! Pretty much everything is similar in the apple store.

    Andy · Feb 10, 02:58 AM · #

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