When Apple CEO Steve Jobs announces fiscal fourth quarter iPhone sales later this month, a few industry analysts could be red-faced. An effort by iPhone owners points to Apple selling more than the 5 million a consensus of experts had predicted for the three-month period that ended Sept. 30.
In addition, the data could lend support to Jobs’ claim 10 million iPhones would be sold in 2008.
The new numbers are the result of a volunteer effort to track the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number, a 15-digit ID used to trace the number of units produced in 2008. The 9,190,680th iPhone was made Sept. 29 and sold Oct. 5, according to a database of IMEI compiled by the Apple Finance Board of Mac Observer.
Combined with the 2.42 million iPhones previously sold, the total number of iPhones sold surpasses Apple’s goal of 10 million for 2008.
Analysts were split on how the report’s credibility.
“I would say I would believe it,” Ken Dulaney, a Gartner analyst, told Cult of Mac.
“I think given the new device, the expansion into other territories, it was going to do well.”
Avi Greengart, a handset watcher at Current Analysis, gives the data a thumbs-down, but says the volunteer effort “is certainly a clever approach.”
“If it proves accurate, it will be worth watching in the future,” he told Cult of Mac.
In September, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster and others projected Apple would sell 5 million iPhones during the fourth quarter. Munster did not return requests for comment on the new data.