Analyst: iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s Sales to Hit 6M on Launch Weekend

Thanks to limited inventory, Apple will likely sell between 5 million and 6 million iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s models combined during their first weekend of availability. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster expects that number could higher, but constraints on iPhone 5s inventory will limit just how much the company can sell.

Analysts expect iPhone 5s inventory to be limited for launch weekendAnalysts expect iPhone 5s inventory to be limited for launch weekend

According to Mr. Munster, the Touch ID fingerprint sensor in the iPhone 5s caused the expected limited number of phones. based on his figures, Apple sold 3 million iPhone 5 units in-store on launch weekend, and 2 million preorders. For the iPhone 5s, he thinks the in-store number could come in at 2.5 million units.

He said,

Given last year's in-store sales numbers, we are comfortable that Apple could sell 2.5 million iPhone 5s units this launch weekend. Our estimate for the 5c is 3 million units sold during the launch weekend including 1 million online pre-orders and 2 million in stores. Our estimates include China, which includes 10-15 percent of units. It is important to note that while investors may back out China to arrive at a comparable launch weekend number, the number of launch countries has varied in every iPhone launch.

Apple unveiled the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c at a special media event last week. The 5s model replaces the iPhone 5 as the top of the line iPhone and includes an improved camera sensor, a 64-bit A7 processor, M7 motion tracking coprocessor, and the Touch ID fingerprint security scanner. Apple chose to not offer the 5s model for preorder sales and instead is taking regular online purchases at 12:01AM pacific time Friday morning and in-store purchases starting at 8AM local time.

The iPhone 5c is new to the iPhone family. It is the company's mid-range model with essentially the same hardware specifications as the iPhone 5. Instead of a glass and metal back, however, it sports a scratch resistant plastic back available in white, red, yellow, green, or blue.

Apple's big tell will come next week after the initial iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s sales have been tallied. If Apple follows its post-launch routine from previous years we'll see an announcement saying how many units were sold. If not, that could mean the numbers were disappointing.

"If the iPhone 5s sells out early in the weekend, it means demand is healthy and supply is short," Mr. Munster said. "But if 5s supply lasts through the weekend, it could mean that demand is weaker than expected."

Lines are already forming outside some Apple retail stores, so there's a good chance demand will be high when sales start Friday morning. Those sales will include a mix of iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c buyers, so not everyone will be looking to get their hands on Apple's top of the line phone model.

Mr. Munster is maintaining his "Overweight" rating and US$640 target price for Apple's stock. Apple is currently trading at $471.63, up 6.95 (1.50%).