All-conquering Apple scoffs at the unbelievers

Maybe Tim Cook is not so boring after all? Sales of new iPhones rewrite the record book

By Andrew Leonard
September 23, 2013 6:48PM (UTC)
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Customers wait in line to buy the latest versions of the iPhone during the opening day of sales of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5C at the Apple store in Glendale, Calif., Sept. 20, 2013. (AP/Damian Dovarganes)

No wonder Apple CEO Tim Cook was smiling when he visited the Apple store in Palo Alto Friday morning. The iEverything colossus has smashed through the fog of fear and doubt spread by the doom-and-gloom-sayers once again. On Monday, Apple announced it sold "a record-breaking" nine million new iPhone 5s and 5c models over the weekend. The icing on that cake? Over 200 million iOS devices upgraded to iOS 7, "making it the fastest software upgrade in history."

More is yet to come: "Demand for iPhone 5s has exceeded the initial supply, and many online orders are scheduled to be shipped in the coming weeks." You can bet your last skeptical tweet that there are a bazillion gold iPhones getting assembled right this second in southern China.


As one of the carping anklebiters who was unimpressed by the rollout of the new iPhones two weeks ago, I sit abashed. Never underestimate the power of the Apple machine! One year ago, Apple sold 5 million new iPhones. The Samsung Galaxy S4 required a whole month to pass 10 million units. Blackberry sold only 3.7 million phones in an entire quarter.

In the days leading up to the launch, we heard that Apple's decision not to allow pre-orders for the iPhone 5s was a scheme for artificially boosting demand. We were told that lines at stores weren't very long and that there weren't enough new features to make Apple's flagship device "compelling." We heard analysts predicting as low as 3-4 million units moved over the weekend.

What explains the knock-out success? Well, the addition of China as a first day market surely pumps up the total. The increasing pool of potential upgraders -- all those millions of iPhone 4s buyers whose two-year contracts were up -- provided another infrastructural boost. Or maybe people just really, really like the new colors. Whatever the reason, the investors who knocked off 10 percent of Apple's stock price after Tim Cook's show and tell in Cupertino two weeks ago are probably scrambling to place buy orders right this minute. Both for the stock, and the phone.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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Apple Ios 7 Iphone 5c Iphone 5s Iphone Sales Smartphones Tim Cook