It’s now well-established that numbers emanating from Warner Music, EMI, Vivendi Universal and Sony BMG’s RIAA and/or Hollywood’s MPAA are about as reliable as thin ice on a hot day.
But what about Apple?
It routinely and regularly issues press statements saying its iTunes has sold X billion songs. But to the best of our knowledge, not once has it ever provided support for these alleged sales figures which are always so, well, very round —- one billion, two billion, never 1,999,999, or whatever. And the mainstream media always quote the numbers as though they’re unquestionably accurate.
Steve Jobs claimed to have sold 4,00,000 iPhones (another nice, round number) as of January 15, the date of his Macworld keynote speech, says Fortune.
Enter Toni Sacconaghi.
“With just short of two million AT&T customers using the device, however, one analyst suggests that a large number of the handsets are mysteriously unaccounted for,” says Apple Insider, going on:
“Toni Sacconaghi of Bernstein Research observes in a note to investors that the gap between Apple’s shipment claims, AT&T’s subscription numbers, and European projections should leave roughly 1.4 million of the devices to be split between unlocked devices and those simply idling on store shelves.”
The story goes on:
If claims of 190,000 UK iPhone sales are accurate and are combined with official results of 70,000 French models and a similar number from T-Mobile Germany, Apple will have sold approximately 350,000 devices outside of the US — well short of filling the gap left by AT&T’s customer base.
The gray market for unlocked iPhones is also unlikely to explain the difference, Sacconaghi says. For its summer quarter, Apple reported 250,000 likely unlocked iPhones in its sales figures, or about 18 percent of the inventory shipped at the time. Assuming about 20 percent of iPhones were unlocked – a ‘generous’ amount, the analyst adds – this would only account for about 750,000 of the 1.4 million phones and leave about 670,000 of the phones “missing in action,” according to the note.
“Apple might have a demand problem,” Forbes has Tom Krazit at CNET saying, adding:
“Russell Shaw at ZDNet says the iPhone is at a “crossing the chasm” moment, stuck between early adopters and the mainsteam, and predicts that to survive its price will have to come down to $299 by the end of May at the latest.
:Ewan McLeod at the U.K.’s SMS Text News waxes positively elegiac in a post entitled “The Apple iPhone will only ever be a bit player”:
The geeks have all bought one and many have got theirs unlocked. The Nike wearing Soho crowd have splurged the cash. The wannabes and the I-must-have-that crowd have weighed in, swapped networks and got their devices. But that’s it. There’s a ton of people all sitting staring at the iPhone and – SADLY – (this is the bit that’s winding me up), turning their backs and walking away. (link)
A lot could change in the next 50 weeks, Forbes adds, but, “one thing is certain: having promised and repromised to sell 10 million iPhones in 2008, there will be hell to pay in 2009 if Apple falls even a little bit short”.
Creative Accounting Syndrome – MPAA student stats scandal: update, January 24, 2008
Fortune – The case of the 1.4 million missing iPhones, January 25, 2008
Apple Insider – Surge of UK `online` teen suicides,, January 23, 2008
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