Apple Inc.’s new larger-screen iPhones topped 4 million in pre-orders in the first 24 hours, surpassing earlier releases as demand for the smartphones outstrips supply.
Deliveries of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will start at the end of this week, when the smartphones officially go on sale, and a backlog will mean that many won’t receive their handsets until next month, the Cupertino, California-based company said in a statement today. Apple said there will be devices in stock in stores on Sept. 19 and encouraged customers to arrive early or order online for in-store pickup.
Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook is counting on the bigger phones to counter Samsung Electronics Co.’s larger displays and to usher in demand for other products Apple introduced last week, from the Apple Watch to the credit card-substituting Apple Pay service. The company had indicated that the new smartphones would take as many as four weeks to ship. The iPhone 6 has a 4.7-inch display and the iPhone 6 Plus has a 5.5-inch one, while the previous iPhones have a 4-inch screen.
“It speaks to the pent-up demand for a larger iPhone,” Tim Bajarin, an analyst at Creative Strategies Inc., said today in a telephone interview. “Apple will actually have record quarters for the minimum of the next two years just because of this kind of demand.”
The pre-orders are double the 2 million Apple announced in 2012 when it released the iPhone 5, and compares with the 9 million the company sold during the opening weekend last year for the iPhone 5s and 5c.
“We are thrilled customers love them as much as we do,” Cook said in today’s statement.
The iPhone remains the most important piece of Apple’s business. The handset accounted for about half of Apple’s $171 billion in revenue last fiscal year. With sales of the iPad slowing down, the company needs to keep the iPhone a blockbuster in order to maintain growth.
Apple fell less than 1 percent to $101.60 at the close in New York. The shares are up 27 percent this year, compared with a 7.3 percent gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.
The iPhone 6 costs $199 to $399 with a two-year contract, while the 6 Plus is priced at $299 to $499. The devices will come in silver, gold and space gray.
Demand for the handsets has Apple poised to sell more than 61 million iPhones in the December quarter, surpassing last year’s record 51 million sold, Barclays Plc said in a note today.
“We believe significant demand will even spill into the March and June quarters given supply and the timing of shipments in China,” Ben Reitzes, an analyst at Barclays, wrote in the note.
This isn’t the first time Apple and phone carriers have seen iPhone models delayed well before they were available in stores. In 2012, the iPhone 5 was delayed for shipment by a week after a rush of orders, and in 2011 the iPhone 4S sold out at AT&T Inc., Verizon Wireless, and Sprint Nextel Corp. only five days after pre-orders began.
The new devices will go on sale first in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore and the U.K. On Sept. 26, 20 additional countries will begin selling the handsets.
China, one of Apple’s biggest markets, won’t get the new devices at first, though the company said it plans to have the handsets in 115 countries by the end of the year.
(An earlier version of this story was corrected to show the right number of countries where the device will be available.)