With Apple having announced all-time record iPhone sales, you might have expected analysts and investors to be impressed, and to see the AAPL share price rise as a result. Instead, the stock is actually down a little – so what gives?

The answer, like the one to so many questions today, is: China. This is the first iPhone launch where mainland China, and not just Hong Kong, has been included from day one. This means the opening weekend sales of 13M versus 10M last year aren’t like-for-like.

Apple hasn’t revealed what percentage of iPhone sales were made in China, but we can do some back-of-an-envelope sums to get a rough idea … 

If we add together Apple’s Q2 and Q3 numbers, we can see that Apple’s revenue from China over that six month period totalled $30B out of a total of $107B – or a little over 28%.

china-sums

We don’t know how that breaks down across products, but it’s a safe bet that China is buying more iPhones than iPads or Macs, so it seems reasonable to conclude that somewhere close to 30% of this year’s opening weekend iPhone sales were in China. But let’s stick with that 28% as an illustrative example.

Apple sold 13M iPhones worldwide in its opening weekend. Taking 28% of that number to be in China, that’s 3.64M. Take that from 13M and the like-for-like comparison with last year is 9.36M – a drop from last year’s 10M.

Let’s also keep in mind that city/SAR of Hong Kong WAS part of the iPhone 6 launch and that is a not-insignificant part of China, especially when you consider that a lot of folks bought in Hong Kong (and everywhere else) to take to China on opening weekend.

I’ll be the first to admit this is all very rough-and-ready number-crunching, but it’s still clear that there’s a big difference between Tim Cook’s gushing talk of “phenomenal” demand that saw iPhones sales “blowing past any previous first weekend sales results in Apple’s history” and the underlying reality which may be a little more tame.

That’s not to say that getting close to equalling last year’s record sales in an S year isn’t an impressive achievement – it is. Any company would be over the moon to announce sales of 13M over an opening weekend.  Last time there was pent-up demand for larger-screen iPhones, and this is an S-model year with the same sizes. But it does explain why the market isn’t rushing out to buy more AAPL stock in response. With the NASDAQ as a whole down 3%, Apple did effectively see a slight gain against the market, just not a dramatic one.