Looking behind the iPhone 4 launch stats

Analysts report that many sales were to existing iPhone owners, but Apple gained a significant number of new iPhone customers

The official launch of the iPhone 4 yesterday was an unrivaled success. Estimates suggest that Apple sold approximately 1.5 million of the next generation smartphone. The majority of iPhone 4 purchasers were upgrading from a previous iPhone version, but there is still a significant number of new iPhone owners as well.

Despite sporadic reports of display issues, and significantly more persistent reports of issues with the innovative antenna engineering of the iPhone 4, Apple did not appear to have any problem selling them on launch day.

Piper Jaffray researchers report that 77 percent of the iPhone 4 sales yesterday were to existing iPhone users upgrading from a previous model. Combining that with the estimated 1.5 million iPhone 4s sold, it would seem that more than 1.1 million iPhone users jumped at the chance to switch to the redesigned iPhone 4.

The headlines around the iPhone 4 sales appear to focus on that fact--seeming like a thinly veiled attempt to discredit the launch-day success. However, the flipside of that number is that there were nearly 350K new iPhone users as well.

That means that Apple acquired more new iPhone customers than Sprint's overstated record launch of the EVO 4G--and that is on top of the 1.1 million upgrading iPhone users. It also means that Apple grew its market share by three times more than the launch day sales of the Motorola Droid on Verizon. If this were any other smartphone aside from the iPhone, the 350K alone would be reason to declare the launch an overwhelming success.

Taking the estimates a step farther, AT&T recently reported that four in ten iPhone purchases were for business use. Assuming that figure holds true--600K of the 1.5 million iPhone 4s sold were for business use, and 140K of those were to new customers that did not previously own an iPhone.

It will be interesting to see--especially as the iPhone 4 sales continue to mount over the coming weeks--how the next generation iPhone shakes up market share among smartphones in general, and more specifically in the enterprise.

RIM is investing renewed effort to compete against the iPhone and iPad, and Microsoft is (finally) launching Windows Phone 7 smartphones later this year. Those are the two reigning leaders of the business smartphone market. But, given the tremendous success of the iPhone 4, RIM and Microsoft might be late to the party and have trouble reversing the tide.

You can follow Tony on his Facebook page, or contact him by email at tony_bradley@pcworld.com. He also tweets as @Tony_BradleyPCW.

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Tony Bradley

PC World (US online)
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