iPhone 5 sales top 5M units over first weekend, Apple says

That's a million higher than the iPhone 4S, but probably still not enough to satisfy high expectations. More than 100 million devices have been upgraded to iOS 6, despite the maps flap.

Eager fans wait for the iPhone 5 at Apple's flagship store on Fifth Ave. in Manhattan. Greg Sandoval/CNET

Apple said today that it sold 5 million of its new iPhone 5 smartphones over the weekend, topping the mark set by last year's iPhone 4S by 1 million units.

The Apple frenzy on Friday continued its memorable run with lines snaking out of some of the company's most high-profile stores, as consumers eagerly snapped up the iPhone 5. The figure, however, isn't quite as high as some analysts expected, with one notably having predicted 6 million as his "worst-case scenario" for first-weekend sales.

Still, the iPhone 5 re-establishes Apple's dominance in the smartphone business. While Samsung Electronics may lead the market in total smartphones sold, no other company can garner the kind of excitement and anticipation for a new product, and few companies can reap the sheer amount of profit that Apple can with the iPhone.

The success comes despite criticism that the iPhone 5 isn't a ground-breaking upgrade from the previous version, and that its key features -- a bigger display and a 4G wireless connection -- are elements that should have been included in the iPhone 4S.

More embarrassing is Apple's own maps application, which contains a number of errors, distorted images, and a lack of details in different locations that have many wishing the company hadn't booted Google Maps out of iOS 6.

Still, the iPhone 5 has agarnered strong reviews, and neither the lack of a major change in its esthetics nor the map flap have hurt demand. Apple also said today that more than 100 million devices have upgraded to iOS 6, the latest version of its mobile operating system.

Wall Street had higher expectations, with estimates as high as 10 million units sold over the first weekend. The company could sell as many as 50 million units in the fourth quarter, according to J.P. Morgan.

It remains to be seen whether the long-term demand for the iPhone continues with the competition stepping up its game. Samsung has already gone after Apple with advertisements taking shots at the iPhone 5, while Microsoft is readying the launch of its Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.

Meanwhile, the iPhone 5 marches on. This Thursday, Apple will release the iPhone 5 in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

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About the author

Roger Cheng is the executive editor in charge of breaking news for CNET News. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade. He's a devoted Trojan alum and Los Angeles Lakers fan.

 

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