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iPhone sales estimated at 700,000

Disagreements over Apple's first weekend sales

It will be a while before the official numbers come in, but some Wall Street analysts say that Apple might have sold as many as 700,000 iPhones over the device's opening weekend.

That figure comes from Goldman Sachs analyst David Bailey, who had projected 350,000 units sold prior to Friday's launch.

Other analysts also projected robust sales for the weekend. Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster put sales at about 500,000 units, more than double the 200,000 he forecast before the iPhone went on sale.

"Apple has really met expectations and delivered the product they promised to deliver," said Michael Gartenberg, vice president and research director at JupiterResearch. "If the initial forecasts of sales are correct they have blown away everyone's expectations, except perhaps their own."

Not every analyst saw the weekend as a success. JP Morgan analyst Bill Shope pegged sales at approximately 312,000 for the weekend and said in a note to clients that demand may have been a bit disappointing.

It's clear that the iPhone generated a lot of interest on Friday's launch day. Some shoppers reported delays in activation, which some analysts attributed to high volume; AT&T said most issues have been resolved.

Approximately two percent of users have reportedly been affected by activation issues. Analysts don't see the problems over the first couple of days affecting the iPhone over the long term.

"This is a new process, but most of it was you had 500,000 people trying to activate their iPhones over one weekend," said Gartenberg. "There is a certain frustration when you spend $600 for a device and want use it right away, but it's not something that's going to happen all the time.”

It's not unprecedented for high digital sales to slow down service. Last December, busy holiday sales overwhelmed the iTunes Store as shoppers redeemed their digital gift certificates.

After using the device for the weekend and weighing the affects of the AT&T activation issues, analysts believe the iPhone itself and the launch events that took place around the country have been successful.

'It's hard to sell 50,000 units let alone 500,000 - that means they really hit the consumer consciousness," said Gartenberg.

"Clearly, the launch was executed very well," said Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis at The NPD Group. "The iPhone design reflects the level of flexibility that lies ahead for the industry."

See also:

Activation hell for iPhone buyers

Warning over iPhone scams

First look: Hands-on with the iPhone

Hackers could unlock iPhone today

The iPhone killers: best products of 2007


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