Apple's sales of new iPhones off to fast start

Associated PressSeptember 23, 2013 

— Gadget lovers still can’t resist the iPhone.

Even as investors fret that Apple’s smartphone is losing its allure amid a bevy of enticing lower-priced alternatives that offer similar features, the iPhone’s call remains seductive.

Apple said Monday it sold 9 million units of its top-of-the-line iPhone 5S and less-expensive iPhone 5C during their first three days on sale. That trounced the performance of last year’s iPhone 5, which sold 5 million units in its opening weekend.

The initial figures provided the latest testament to the product’s enduring appeal more than six years after the first iPhone’s debut triggered a mobile computing revolution.

The new iPhones’ quick start also surpassed analysts’ predictions that Apple would sell 6 million to 8 million units during the first weekend.

“The demand for the new iPhones has been incredible,” CEO Tim Cook crowed.

As part of the company’s effort to drum up interest in its most profitable product, Cook made an early-morning appearance Friday at an Apple store in Palo Alto, Calif., when the new iPhones first went on sale.

Monday’s positive news helped generate more interest in Apple’s stock. Shares gained $24.35, or more than 5 percent, to hit $491.76 in afternoon trading.

Despite that rally, Apple’s stock price remains slightly below where it stood before Sept. 10, when the Cupertino, Calif., company unveiled its latest iPhones.

The downturn reflects concerns that the new phones won’t be enough to reverse a slowdown in Apple’s revenue growth that has been brought on by tougher competition from Samsung Electronics and others. Apple’s rivals have been gaining market share by selling less expensive phones running on Google Inc.’s free Android software. Those nagging worries are the main reason that Apple’s market value has sagged by about 30 percent, or $200 billion, since last year’s release of the iPhone 5.

Part of this weekend’s higher iPhone sales volume stemmed from Apple’s decision to make the latest models available on a broader scale than in past years. For instance, this marked the first time that a new iPhone has gone on sale in China at the same time that the product also launched in the United States.

But the opening sales numbers also served as “a powerful reminder of the strength of (Apple’s) iPhone franchise,” ISI Group analyst Brian Marshall wrote Monday in a research note.

In another sign of the intense interest in anything new from Apple, the company also said more than 200 million devices have already embraced iOS 7, its latest mobile operating system. The software is the most radical makeover of the system since the iPhone came out in 2007. Apple released iOS 7 as a free update last Wednesday for iPhone models dating back to 2010, iPads dating back to 2011 and the last iPod Touch that came out last year.

Downloads of iOS 7 during the first five days of the release roughly doubled the amount of installations after Apple release iOS 6 last year.

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