iPhone 6 sets sales record with 4M first day

Double the 24-hour number in 2012, the last time Apple took pre-orders for its flagship

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Apple today said it had sold over four million iPhones in 24 hours last week, double the number it dealt out in 2012 for the iPhone 5, the last time the company pre-sold its flagship.

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The iPhone 6

The Cupertino, Calif. firm also acknowledged that pre-orders had exhausted inventory, and that not all who placed an order will receive their new phones by Friday, Sept. 19.

"Demand for the new iPhones exceeds the initial pre-order supply and while a significant amount will be delivered to customers beginning on Friday and throughout September, many iPhone pre-orders are scheduled to be delivered in October," Apple said in a Monday statement.

Not surprisingly, Apple did not mention the bungled pre-ordering of Sept. 12, when the Apple Store was not available until hours after the 3 a.m. ET kick-off (midnight PT). Other customers have reported problems ordering from carriers that included missing confirmation emails, changed arrival dates and upgrade eligibility snafus.

In today's statement CEO Tim Cook said pre-orders for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus had set a record.

According to Apple's online store, the 4.7-in. iPhone 6 will now ship 7 to 10 business days after ordering. The larger 5.5-in. iPhone 6 Plus, which went into delayed shipping almost immediately last Friday, showed "3-4 weeks" early Monday.

The last time that Apple allowed pre-orders of its flagship iPhone was in September 2012, when the company boasted it had sold two million iPhone 5 smartphones in the first 24 hours. (In 2013, Apple took pre-orders only for the iPhone 5C; it took the unusual step of not opening the more expensive iPhone 5S to pre-ordering.)

The four million iPhone 6 and 6 Plus phones sold equaled the total in 2011 over the first three days of sales of the iPhone 4S.

iPhone shortages are nothing new: When the iPhone 5S went on sale opening weekend a year ago, the company drained stocks almost instantly. In 2012, pre-sale inventory vanished inside an hour.

It typically takes months for Apple to reach a supply and demand balance. Last week, however, financial analyst Brian White of Cantor Fitzgerald was optimistic that the firm would meet demand as quickly as a month from now.

Most experts believe that this year's upgrade cycle will be the largest in Apple's history, fueled by the larger-sized screens and a massive pool of customers with smartphones two years old or older. In 2013, Apple sold 9 million iPhones in the first weekend of retail sales, a number that included pre-sales of the iPhone 5C.

It appears inevitable that the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will top last year's three-day record: At the pace of pre-sales in 2012, which were 40% of the opening weekend, a weekend total this year would be 10 million.

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will go on sale Friday at 8 a.m. local time in Apple's retail stores, as well as those of its carrier partners. "Customers are encouraged to arrive early," Apple said today of Friday.

Apple will sell the new smartphones in 10 markets this year, up one from last year: the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore and the U.K. Another 20 markets will start sales Sept. 26, including Austria, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Spain and Taiwan.

China, which was on the early list last year, has been noticeably absent from this year's. Reports from the People's Republic of China (PRC) have claimed that the iPhone has not received regulatory approval from the government there.

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