Apple sold more than 4 million iPhone 4S units during its first weekend in release.
That surpasses estimates by Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, who predicted in an Oct. 14 research note the company would sell between 2 million and 2.5 million units during that same period, including the 1 million preorders. Certainly, lines formed at Apple stores throughout the country, as customers queued up to obtain the latest iPhone.
Munster had based that number on historical trends for iPhone sales. "We surveyed 550 people at Apple stores regarding iPhone 4S purchasing patterns," he wrote in that note, "and we compare the results with similar surveys conducted at every iPhone launch."
Now, in an updated Oct. 17 research note, Munster believes that those 4 million units are a harbinger of a better-than-expected quarter for Apple: "Based on launch sales, we think 60 [percent] y/y growth for the Dec.-11 quarter will prove to be conservative despite the fact that launch figures are not a perfect apples-to-apples comparison."
The iPhone 4S resembles the iPhone 4, albeit with significant under-the-hood tweaks to its hardware and software. The smartphone also comes preloaded with iOS 5, a significant upgrade of the company's mobile operating system, in addition to Siri, a "digital assistant" of sorts that responds vocally to spoken questions, and will even act upon requests such as, "Send a text to my brother."
Researchers have busied themselves with breakdowns of the new device's hardware: IHS iSuppli, for one, recently revealed that the iPhone 4S camera module is apparently unique to smartphones.
That five-lens camera module is "a first in any smartphone analysis by the IHS iSuppli Teardown Analysis service," the research firm wrote in an Oct. 14 note to media and analysts. "Previously, the state-of-the-art has been a four-lens approach...like the iPhone 4, the 4S employs backside illumination (BSI) technology."
As a company, Apple is also dealing with the death of co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs, who passed away the day after the iPhone 4S debut on Oct. 4. Under Jobs' leadership, the company rolled out a line of hit products such as the iPhone, the iPod and the MacBook Air. Current CEO Tim Cook now has the responsibility of guiding the company forward as it combats Google Android and other competitors for control of the mobility space.