Apple sells 4M iPhone 6, 6 Plus units in 24 hours of preorder sales

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) said it took a record 4 million preorders for its iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in the first 24 hours of availability, which started last Friday. The company did not say how many preorders it took during the first weekend of preorder sales; retail sales for the phones start Sept. 19.

In comparison, in 2012 Apple said it received over 2 million preorders for the iPhone 5 within 24 hours, and first-weekend sales totaled more than 5 million. Apple did not reveal opening-weekend sales last year when it launched the iPhone 5s and 5c.

Apple said demand for the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch 6 Plus "exceeds the initial pre-order supply and while a significant amount will be delivered to customers beginning on Friday and throughout September, many iPhone pre-orders are scheduled to be delivered in October." On Apple's U.S. website, the company says that if a customer orders an iPhone 6 now it will ship in seven to 10 business days, but shipments of the 6 Plus will not go out for three to four weeks.

"Pre-orders for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus set a new record for Apple, and we can't wait to get our best iPhones yet into the hands of customers starting this Friday," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement.

The phones will go on sales in stores first in the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore and the United Kingdom starting Sept. 19, and in 22 additional countries--Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates--beginning on Sept 26.

Many smaller U.S. carriers will also start selling the new iPhones Sept. 26.

As CNET notes, Apple reportedly asked its suppliers to produce about 70 million to 80 million units of its new, larger-screen iPhones by Dec. 30, which would be around 30 percent to 40 percent more iPhones than it ordered for last year's launch of the iPhone 5s and 5c.

Wireless carriers are doing all they can to entice customers to buy a new iPhone, especially before the third quarter ends on Sept. 30. AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T) said Friday was its biggest iPhone preorder launch day ever, but it did not reveal specific sales figures. Through Sept. 30, the company is giving customers up to $300 in trade-in credit when they trade in an iPhone 5s, and $200 when they trade in an iPhone 4, 4S, 5 or 5c. Also through Sept. 30, if customers buy any iPhone with a new line of service on AT&T Next, the company's device installment plan, they will get a $100 bill credit.

Sprint (NYSE: S) introduced a $50 unlimited plan for customers who buy one of the new phones, $10 cheaper than its existing unlimited plan for individuals. Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) said it will give customers a $200 gift card that can be applied to the regular $199.99 price of the 16 GB iPhone 6 when they trade in their old iPhone and sign a new two-year contract. T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) is touting that it is the only U.S. carrier that supports Wi-Fi calling on the new iPhones.

Meanwhile, in an interview with Charlie Rose on PBS, Cook said that Apple could have made larger-screen phones "years ago" but waited until it could make enough enhancements. "It's never been about just making a larger phone," he said. "It's been about making a better phone in every single way. And so we ship things when they're ready."

Many of Apple's competitors have gone to larger-screened phones the past several years, but until now Apple had only made phones with 4-inch screens. Larger screens have tended to produce more data consumption, especially video.

Cook said he considered Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) Apple's major rival, since it supplies Android software to many of Apple's competitors. He also teased that "there are products that we're working on that no one knows about--yes--that haven't been rumored about."  For more on Cook's interview, see this FierceWirelessTech article.

For more:
- see this release
- see this The Verge article
- see this CNET article
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this separate The Verge article
- see this Re/code article

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