Apple reaches 10 million iPhone 3G sales target early

7 Oct 2008

We knew the iPhone 3G was popular, but to say that Apple has reached its Q4 sales target of 10 million three months before its deadline, and well before the year is out, is staggering.

However, writers for financial blog Bullish Cross claim that this is indeed the case, based on an analysis of IMEI numbers for handsets sold.

Co-authors Andy Zaky and Turley Muller based their estimates on the data collected on the Mac Observer’s Apple Finance Board after an investor specialising in Apple-related stocks asked owners to post up partial serial and IMEI numbers and date purchased in order to get a sense of stock shifted and sold.

The results were published on a Google Docs spreadsheet and indicated the number of iPhone 3G units in production, which pointed to between 7 and 7.5 million units sold in Q4 alone, according to Zaky and Muller.

“The consensus estimates for iPhone sales figures for Apple’s Q4 (calendar Q3) were calling for approximately four million units. It now appears that Apple has sold at least 7 to 7.5 million iPhones in Q4 — that’s nearly 80pc above consensus,” they said on the Bullish Cross blog.

The IMEI is a unique identifier that can tell what particular build or batch the iPhone 3G comes from, which gives an estimation of how quickly units are shifting, but does not include the total number of phones sold, which would factor in handsets that were sold on, defective or returned.

In addition to this, US market research firm NDP Group estimate that the iPhone 3G now accounts for 17pc of the smart phone market in the US, outselling the BlackBerry Curve, BlackBerry Pearl and Palm Centro between the months of June and August. However, this is full the general market and does not necessarily point to the iPhone 3G overshadowing the BlackBerry device as the business user’s smart phone of choice.

US operator AT&T does seem to be doing well from these sales. NDP also estimated that roughly 30pc of those who purchased the iPhone 3G between June and August were switching over from a different mobile network to do so.

By Marie Boran