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(Image courtesy of Fortune Tech)
Now that the dust is settling on Apple’s iPhone 4 launch, all that’s left to do for customers is to enjoy their new handset (or keep waiting for it, if they weren’t fortunate enough to grab one this week). But the work for analysts has just begun, as they start picking apart sales estimates and surveys to pore over every last bit of minutiae.
Fortune Tech’s Phillip Elmer-DeWitt has an early report on the iPhone 4 sales, and the results appear to show that a vast majority of buyers for the new handset are previous owners of the iPhone upgrading to the latest and greatest. While some analysts such as Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty predicted that 50 percent of iPhone 4 sales would come from such upgraders, early data from surveys conducted by Piper Jaffray place the number much higher, at 77 percent.
“Mission accomplished,” writes Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster in a report to his clients on Friday, only a day after Apple’s biggest product launch in history. "Apple has in three years built brand loyalty in the phone market that compels users to upgrade to the latest version and wait in line for one to six hours to pick up their iPhone."
Piper Jaffray conducted a survey during Thursday’s launch day hysteria, interviewing 608 iPhone 4 buyers in San Francisco, Minneapolis and New York. They repeated the same questions asked at previous iPhone launches the last three years, and discovered that 77 percent of iPhone 4 customers were upgraders, a number that’s up from 56 percent in 2009 and 38 percent in 2008.
Other interesting discoveries in their survey find that only 16 percent of buyers were switching carriers to AT&T, down from 28 percent last year, which would seem to indicate that Verizon and Sprint customers are holding their ground and waiting for the handset to come to their networks. Six percent of the iPhone 4 buyers were switching from RIM’s Blackberry, three percent from a Google Android device and only two percent from a Nokia phone.
Also, 54 percent of buyers purchased the 32GB model, up from 43 percent last year -- possibly due to the fact that the iPhone 4 records 720p HD video, which consumes more storage space than the previous iPhone 3GS. 28 percent of iPhone 4 buyers already own an iPad, and of the remaining 72 percent that didn’t, 39 percent of those indicated that they were likely to buy one in the next 12 months.
"While we think Apple will sell between 1.0 million to 1.5 million iPhones in the first three days (including preorders)," Munster concludes, "the actual number is largely irrelevant. Apple is tapping into the global consumer spending sweet spot, mobile, and as a result iPhone numbers are going higher in the coming years."
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter