Apple continues to expand its distribution of the iPhone 5, and on Sept. 28 made the smartphone available in an additional 22 countries. The news came as CEO Tim Cook issued an apology for Apple’s new Maps app.
Apple fans in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland can now order up what Apple calls a “jewel-like device with a stunning 4-inch Retina display, blazing-fast A6 chip, ultra-fast wireless and even longer battery life.”
While that Retina display was early on a cause for supply concerns, Jefferies analyst Peter Misek has written that the firm’s checks show the addition of Sony to Apple’s list of display suppliers “has alleviated what had been the main bottleneck and offset bear concerns that only 5 million iPhone handsets will be available in September.”
Apple began selling the iPhone 5 Sept. 21 in the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the United Kingdom, and in three days sold 5 million of them. In his Sept. 25 research note, Jefferies’ Misek wrote that he’d instead expected sales of 8 million units during the first weekend.
“We believe [the difference] was due to the reservation of 2 million to 3 million units for the second wave of international launches [Sept. 28].”
The media has been largely positive about the iPhone 5, while acknowledging its shortcomings. The New York Times’ David Pogue found the camera to be “among the best ever put into a phone” though criticized Apple’s decision to change the iPhone’s adapter, calling it “not just a slap in the face to loyal customers [but] a jab in the eye.”
All Things D‘s Walter Mossberg found the iPhone 5 to be thin to the point of almost seeming to be a mock-up, rather than the real thing, but criticized Apple’s Maps app, which he generously called a “step backward” from Google Maps.
Jefferies’ Misek, more to the point, called Apple Maps “really awful,” which still understates how not ready the app was to go live. Misek says it misplaced his backyard and got street locations wrong, though media sites have posted Apple Maps screen shots displaying misplaced parks, bridges melting into rivers and landscapes rippling nuclear-explosion style.
The maps debacle has brought a rare apology from Apple CEO Tim Cook. He explained in a letter posted to the Apple site that while Maps was with the first version of iOS, in order to include newer innovations like voice integration and vector-based maps, it had to build a new version “from the ground up.”
“Everything we do at Apple is aimed at making our products the best in the world,” wrote Cook. “We know that you expect that from us, and we will keep working nonstop until Maps lives up to the same incredibly high standard.
Map glitches and all, Jefferies expects Apple to sell between 8 million and 10 million iPhone 5 devices during the third quarter, and to begin selling an iPad Mini during the fourth quarter.
“We continue to believe that the iPhone 5 will be the best-selling consumer electronics gadget in history,” wrote Misek. “Despite a few minor hiccups, we believe the iPhone 5 feels like tomorrow’s phone today.