Apple has praised the iPhone 6s for selling a record-shattering 13 million units in its first three days. However, a new report suggests that in Japan the 6s and 6s Plus actually sold 10-15 percent fewer units than last year’s iPhone 6.
How can both of these reported facts (record-breaking sales figures and lower demand) be true at the same time? There is an answer — and, no, it’s not Schrödinger’s iPhone.
Provided that the figures by research firm BCN are accurate, one explanation could be that the iPhone 6s is disproportionately unpopular in Japan compared to other markets. I’d be inclined to doubt this, though, since Japan tends to be a strong market for the iPhone — with Apple’s handsets having accounted for an impressive 60 percent of Japan’s smartphone sales in 2014.
Another possible explanation is put forward by carrier NTT DoCoMo. NTT DoCoMo says the iPhone 6s is selling well, although notes that it had fewer people queuing up for it on launch day. But this, the carrier says, could be due to the fact that — for the first time — stores have announced the date they’ll be receiving new iPhone inventory, possibly delaying some people making their purchases.
The most obvious reason for why overall sales are up while demand could be down, however, relates to the markets which received the iPhone 6s on launch weekend.
In 2014, China was not part of the iPhone 6 opening weekend due to regulatory problems. This year, both China and New Zealand joined the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore and the United Kingdom as the first wave of markets to get the iPhone 6s.
More people able to buy the iPhone = more sales, despite lower demand in individual markets.
While this may be evidence that iPhone sales are finally starting to slow down, it’s still way too early to say for sure. After all, if Apple judged success or failure based on the first few days of a product’s availability, the Mac wouldn’t exist today.