Sep. 17, 2012 at 12:30 PM ET
Apple announced today that iPhone 5 pre-orders hit 2 million within 24 hours, while AT&T declared it the fastest-selling iPhone to date.
"iPhone 5 pre-orders have shattered the previous record [of 1 million] held by iPhone 4S and the customer response to iPhone 5 has been phenomenal," said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, in a press release.
Even late last week, a company spokesperson told us that sales were off the charts: "Pre-orders for iPhone 5 have been incredible. We've been completely blown away by the customer response," she said.
Meanwhile, AT&T declared in a statement that the iPhone 5 was the fastest-selling model ever.
"Customers ordered more iPhones from AT&T than any previous model both on its first day of pre-orders and over the weekend," said AT&T.
(The press release was careful not to say that it was the fastest selling phone of any kind, but we think it is. We've asked AT&T what phone could have sold better, and will update if we hear back, but odds are extremely good that this is AT&T's fastest-selling phone of any make or model.)
"AT&T deserves a pat on the back for this performance," wrote wireless industry analyst Jeff Kagan, in a note. "When other competitors started selling the iPhone, many thought AT&T would suffer. They said AT&T would lose business. As it turns out, they were wrong ... AT&T is selling more iPhones, not fewer."
There's a downside to the success, at least for people only now getting around to pre-ordering. According to Apple's statement, "Demand for iPhone 5 exceeds the initial supply and while the majority of pre-orders will be delivered to customers on Sept. 21, many are scheduled to be delivered in October."
Apple's own site estimates "2-3 weeks" for current orders. So the dilemma people who want an iPhone now face is: Should you pre-order? Or get in line to buy a phone when they go on sale in stores Friday?
I would say that it depends on how close you live to an Apple store, and how much time you want to waste standing in line. Apple says the iPhone 5 will be in stock at 356 of its U.S. retailers beginning at 8 a.m. (local time) on Friday. That's as close to a guarantee as you're going to get, but you have to be there, physically, to make it happen.
Carriers will also have the phone, but Apple manages the flow of hardware, and will likely ration out handsets to its partners. Apple's own statement just says that the phone "will be available" through its U.S. carriers and "select" Best Buy, RadioShack, Target and Walmart stores. It does not say when, though presumably there will be some inventory on launch day. If you want go that route, though, you should call ahead.
But hey, with everyone waiting in line at an Apple store, maybe Walmart is the way to go.