Got a tip for us? Share it...

New in OS X: Get MacRumors Push Notifications on your Mac

Resubscribe Now Close

Early iPhone 5 Purchases Trend Toward iPhone 4S Upgraders and Black Models Amid Long Lines

Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White has released a new report analyzing some launch-day iPhone 5 data based on a limited survey of 100 purchasers at Apple retail stores in New York City. According to White's data, half of surveyed iPhone 5 were upgrading from the iPhone 4S, which itself was released only 11 months ago.
Given that the iPhone 4S was launched just one year ago and many consumers are locked into a two-year service agreement with their carrier, we thought the vast majority of the upgrades would come from iPhone 4, previous iPhone generations or non-iPhone users. However, our survey indicates the opposite. In fact, our survey found that 50% of the iPhone 5 buyers upgraded from the iPhone 4S, 11% from the iPhone 4, 3% for 3GS and 36% from non-iPhone users.
Among non-iPhone users moving to the iPhone 5, White found that Nokia and HTC were the most popular phone brands being abandoned for the iPhone 5. White also surveyed customers on their iPhone 5 color preferences, finding that 56% of surveyed buyers were opting for the "Black and Slate" models over "White and Silver" models.

In a separate report, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster discusses his team's visits to Apple's Fifth Avenue and Upper West Side retail stores in New York City and the Uptown store in Minneapolis, where they found that lines were on average 83% longer for the iPhone 5 than they were for the iPhone 4S. Munster also had representatives counting customers at the Chestnut Hill and Bolyston Street stores in the Boston area, but with no prior-year data available for those locations, they primarily serve as a baseline for future analysis.
We believe that based on our count of 775 customers in line for the iPhone 5 at the flagship 5th Avenue store, demand for the iPhone 5 is higher than any previous launch. We believe the line for the iPhone 5 was 70% greater than the line for the iPhone 4S despite Apple taking 2x as many online pre-orders. The trend of Apple product lines at the flagship store had been decreasing, we believe, due to the company taking a greater number of online pre-orders. For the three total stores we observed with Y/Y comps, the average line was 83% longer. Given the strength of the line for the iPhone 5, we are incrementally more confident in Apple's ability to sell 8 million phones in the launch weekend.

Many third-party retailers are experiencing very low stock of the iPhone 5, resulting in delays in availability even for customers who pre-ordered the device. Availability at Apple's own retail stores appears to be remaining fairly high, although some locations are very low on or completely out of select models. Carrier availability has also generally been fairly good in stores, although Sprint is now running out of stock at its East Coast stores.

Update 11:45 AM: Munster has now released his own results on iPhone 5 customer profiles, painting a very different picture than that seen by White. Munster's survey of 517 iPhone 5 buyers found just 26% of them upgrading from the iPhone 4S, compared to 50% in White's survey. Munster's survey found that 45% of customers were upgrading from the iPhone 4, while White pegged that number at just 11%. Finally, while White's data showed 36% of customers were moving from a non-iPhone, Munster's data put the number closer to 17%, with the vast discrepancies across the board illustrating the unreliability of such surveys.

Related roundups: iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6

Top Rated Comments

(View all)

21 months ago
I still find this data nonsense. The people who wait in line are a different breed then people who prefer to have the phone delivered to them.
Rating: 14 Positives
21 months ago
lol 100 people is enough to say that it's a trend?
Rating: 12 Positives
21 months ago

I still find this data nonsense. The people who wait in line are a different breed then people who prefer to have the phone delivered to them.


This. While these stats don't claim to be "scientific," they're so far from meaningful that it's a bit ridiculous that they're being thrown around.

Should be more like:

"From early adopters who like to wait in long lines in New York City, inconclusive and incomplete information has been gleaned after one man conducts informal poll of 0.01% of all NY buyers - who themselves represent less than 0.01% of the market."
Rating: 8 Positives
21 months ago
Well you know the saying: "Once you go black...." :D
Rating: 7 Positives
21 months ago
This is shocking. I feel like its not much of an upgrade from the 4S. Not enough to sign for another two years and pay full price. From a 4 I'd understand.
Rating: 6 Positives
21 months ago
My 4S is slick and smooth on iOS 6. I'm having trouble seeing what the big push from 4S to 5 is for.
Rating: 6 Positives
21 months ago
"data based on a limited survey of 100 purchasers at Apple retail stores in New York City"

I stopped reading after this...:rolleyes:
Rating: 6 Positives
21 months ago
36% from non-iphone users.... that is great!
Rating: 5 Positives
21 months ago

This is shocking. I feel like its not much of an upgrade from the 4S. Not enough to sign for another two years and pay full price. From a 4 I'd understand.


Well I sold my 32gb 4S for $475, and upgrdaded to a 5 32gb with an early upgrade fee for $549 (plus tax).
Sure, it didn't cover the cost completely... but for around $100 I have the latest of iPhone for the next year+. Since it is basically glued to me and my most used item every day, it is well worth it to me.

I think eventually smart developers will make great use of the extra screen space, and visiting this forum a lot, I know I'd feel like I am missing out! Also, LTE is available where I live.

AT&T let me keep my unlimted data (3G soft cap was 3gb before slowing down, LTE cap is 5gb!), and as much as I have my gripes with AT&T I am probably not going anywhere soon. At worse, I lost out on $110 (11 months x $10 per month) of credit towards an ETF fee. No big deal.

I also wanted to get off the "S" cycle. I had a 3GS, so I skipped the 4, then got the 4S. Now I'm back on a regular re-design cycle (but who knows how tempting the 5S will be :-D)

There are worse things I could spend $100 on, by far.
Rating: 4 Positives
21 months ago
It isn't very surprising to me nearly half of those who purchased iPhone 5's at retail stores were upgrading from the 4s model. There is a bias in the sampling towards those who are inclined to have the phone immediately and are willing to wait on line for it, perhaps skipping work to do so. That the bias should tilt toward users who may place a high value on owning the latest piece of hardware shouldn't be surprising.

A more complete data set that takes into account all activations over the next month or so may reveal a more balanced picture of the distribution of users who are purchasing the phone.
Rating: 4 Positives

[ Read All Comments ]