Apple sells record 9 million iPhones, blowing past expectations

Despite reports of manufacturing glitches severely hampering sales, Apple sells nearly twice as many new iPhones as a year ago

Apple announced today that it sold 9 million of its new iPhone 5s and 5c devices over the weekend, 4 million more than it sold of the iPhone 5 model in its debut weekend a year ago. Apple CEO Tim Cook also revealed that no less than 200 million iPhones have been updated to iOS 7 since the new version of the operating system was released last Wednesday.

Just last week, various news sites, blogs, newspapers, and TV news shows predicted a disastrous rollout due to insufficient supply caused by manufacturing problems for the new devices. Reuters quoted one carrier saying that preorders for the iPhone 5 were "not overwhelming," while Business Insider ran a story also quoting a carrier that iPhone 5s supplies would be "grotesquely low."

The truth was that Apple hit a new sales record, with nearly double the sales of its last iPhone debut. A big reason was that Apple sold the new devices in China and several other countries at the same time as it did in the United States and Western Europe -- in the past, Apple has delayed sales to China and other markets because it couldn't produce enough for them at rollout. However, Apple has targeted China as a key growth market and clearly pulled out the stops to make it a first-tier market for this rollout. This move may reduce sales later in the quarter because the Chinese demand was satisfied earlier than before, but nonetheless shows that demand is high and supply was generous, despite what you read last week.

Likewise, there was a lot of gnashing in the blogosphere about iOS 7 being merely a cosmetic upgrade whose new look would alienate users. But when it launched last Wednesday, it earned mainly positive reviews, and more than two-thirds of iOS devices are now running it. That's right: In five days, a big majority of iOS users upgraded, a feat you never see in any other platform, whether desktop or mobile. Reviewers of course have had three months to adapt to iOS 7's changes, through beta access, but users who had no such prep time seemed to have adjusted to the changes even faster.

One thing the critics got right is the very limited availability of the new gold-colored iPhone 5s. Many stores had none, and most stores had just a few. Nonetheless, Apple's sales numbers are units sold to customers, not shipped to stores, so all those people who ordered a gold iPhone but haven't received one yet aren't included in the weekend's 9 million sales figure.

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