The original iPhone 2G sold 270,000 units during its release weekend. Last year, the iPhone 3G sold over one million units during its first weekend of sales. Apple's sales numbers improved dramatically from first generation to second, and you might expect a similar rise in sales numbers for this year's iPhone 3GS. But you'd be wrong, at least according to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster.
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Gene's taken a look at the basic facts and put together what he believes is a reasonable sales expectation for the 3GS. Last year's 3G was so successful because it represented a huge increase in capability over the original iPhone, and it was half the price. People flocked to stores in record numbers to get what they saw as a great deal.
While the iPhone 3GS costs as much as the iPhone 3G, it doesn't represent a very dramatic shift in power or features from the 3G. Since it doesn't have startling new technology or a huge price break behind it, the 3GS just isn't going to draw the same kind of crowds. Munster also points out that the 3GS is launching in only 8 countries, instead of 21 like the 3G.
That doesn't mean that the 3GS is going to do poorly. Gene has predicted launch quarter sales of about 5 million, and 1st full quarter sales of 7 million (as opposed to the 3G's 1st quarter sales of 4.36 million). That's a lot of iPhones. It's going to be an absolutely monstrous couple of weeks to be an employee at the Apple store.