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A Week of iPhone 12 Sales at US Carrier Stores

The new iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro have now been selling in the US since October 23 and carriers are finally seeing more traction compared to the initial launch days. Here is the latest round-up from our research:

Demand is up: This is not a big surprise but should nonetheless be mentioned. Despite COVID-19 and still over 7.75 million people receiving unemployment benefits, stores are seeing greater interest by consumers compared to the iPhone 11 launch. There is a three-fold mix of reasons for this. 5G is becoming more of a pull for many consumers. All three carriers are now claiming nationwide 5G coverage. Carrier promos and deals are also helping since many consumers (both switchers and upgraders) are able to get a new iPhone 12 for free with select trade-ins. Lastly, the improved camera, A14 Bionic processor and increased base memory capacity, all are providing strong reasons to upgrade for many iOS users. This is true for both older generation iPhones (6,7,8 series) and newer iPhone X and 11 series owners.

Orders go online: Carriers are driving customers to their websites to purchase devices. We estimate that iPhone sales went over 70% online during this initial launch phase. AT&T stores have an automatic message telling people to go online to order a new iPhone since reps cannot take orders over the phone. Apple asked consumers to not stand in lines on the opening day of the launch. To keep consumers and Apple employees safer, the company asked consumers to order online or order online and then pick up in-store at a certain time to help stores comply with COVID-19 safety procedures.

iPhone 12 in stock, iPhone 12 Pro not: Almost all carrier stores have some variant of the iPhone 12 in stock. However, the iPhone 12 Pro is sold out or was never even available in stores for the launch. As noted with every iPhone launch, Apple has been keeping stock of higher-end devices for itself. Carrier store representatives are quoting delivery of the iPhone 12 Pro models by mid- to end-November.

iPhone XR and iPhone SE see slowdowns: It is not uncommon for iPhones to see slower sales during the lead-up to a new launch, which is what happened with the iPhone XR and SE. However, with the first week of sales for the iPhone 12 behind us, we are seeing increased weakness of the iPhone SE. The iPhone SE 2020 did not get a price drop, and with the new iPhone 12 Mini coming out, some people who want a smaller iPhone are waiting to get the iPhone 12 Mini.

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Maurice Klaehne is a Senior Analyst with Counterpoint Technology Market Research, based out of Boston, USA. He has spent more than five years working as a market researcher and strategy consultant heavily focused on emerging markets and uncovering new growth opportunities for his clients which include business service, CPG, healthcare, and life science companies. Maurice holds a Master’s in International Development and Management from Sweden’s Lund University, and an undergraduate degree in Political Science and International Development from Canada’s McGill University. He is a native German speaker and also speaks fluent French.

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