When Apple announced sales of 5 million iPhone 5 units this morning for the device’s launch weekend, we noted the number was significantly under the up to 10 million predicted by many analysts. While Apple previously announced pre-orders for iPhone 5 doubled the iPhone 4S with 2 million in 24 hours, sales only grew roughly 25 percent from the 4-million iPhone 4S units sold in its opening weekend. The chart above, courtesy of BusinessInsider, shows Apple’s launch weekend sales experienced a large slow down this year. Sales from iPhone 4 to 4S were up 135 percent compared to the 25 percent growth between the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 launch, despite the new device selling in an additional two countries. However, according to one of the analysts, Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster, Apple’s numbers did not include up to 1 million units pre-ordered and expected for delivery in October (via BusinessInsider):

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We believe there are two factors that negatively impacted the number. First, our sales expectation assumed that Apple would include all phones pre-ordered online. We believe that this may have been up to 1 million additional units as units pre-ordered after the middle of the first day were projected to be available in October.

The Wall Street Journal reported today on the shortages of iPhone 5s hitting suppliers around the country. The report noted that various retailers, such as BestBuy, were unable to fulfill pre-orders due to a shortage of launch day supply, and the situation is similar at many Target, Sprint, and RadioShack stores. How many iPhones 5s could Apple have sold? Munster noted the launch weekend could have been closer to 8 million units if it was not for retail supply constraints:

Second, we noted 1.25 days of Apple Retail inventory compared to 2.5 days during the 4S launch. Our 8 million estimate assumed full weekend availability and the counting of all online pre-orders. We believe that if supply were not a constraint and Apple included all pre-orders, the launch weekend number would have been closer to 7-8 million, assuming ~1 million October pre-order sales and an additional 1-2 million units at retail.

Simply not being able to make them fast enough might not be Apple’s only problem. An increasing number of iPhone 5 customers have reported their devices arriving with scratches or light scuffs on the coated aluminum back. AllThingsD noticed the issue: “The most easily damaged area appears to be on the chamfered edges of the device, wearing away the anodized surface and creating a ‘shiny’ look, as the uncoated metal peeks out.” Reports indicate the issue is affecting many users worldwide, but it is unclear what this means for supplies going forward or whether Apple plans to address the issue.

Apple might face further troubles in its supply chain with reports this morning from the BBC about a riot that broke out at Foxconn’s Taiyuan plan in northern China involving approximately 2,000 workers. Foxconn said the incident does not appear work related, but production at the plant has apparently stopped as the company investigates. Foxconn told Reuters the plant will remain closed for today, and an employee apparently confirmed to the publication that the plant does indeed “assemble and make parts for Apple’s iPhone 5.” Local reports (via MICGadget) claim up to 10 people were killed in the incident, but Foxconn is denying those reports.

Update Sept. 25: Bloomberg reported today, citing various analysts, that supply shortages of iPhone 5 is likely due to the device’s new in-cell display technology. Suppliers LG Display, Sharp, and LG Display are having difficulties producing enough displays.

With initial supplies of the iPhone 5 sold out, and many pre-orders from prior to the device’s public launch scheduled for delivery in October, Apple confirmed this morning that it still plans to roll out the device to an additional 22 countries on Sept. 28:

Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.


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About the Author

Jordan Kahn

Jordan writes about all things Apple as Senior Editor of 9to5Mac, & contributes to 9to5Google, 9to5Toys, & Electrek.co. He also co-authors 9to5Mac’s Logic Pros series.