Apple stays mum on iPhone 5C preorder numbers

Apple's not saying (yet) how many iPhone 5C devices customers snapped up in the first day on sale, something it hasn't done since 2009.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
2 min read
Josh Lowensohn/CNET

Apple launching two new iPhones at once is not the only unusual thing about this year.

For the first time since the 2009 introduction of the iPhone 3GS, Apple appears to be keeping quiet on just how many devices it presold in the first 24 hours. In the past, the company has published the first-day figures in an early-morning press release on the Monday following the Friday start of sales.

That's an unusual change in habit for something that has become bragging rights for Apple, which has more than doubled the number of preorders it's received each consecutive year.

One likely reason: in contrast with other iPhone launches, Apple is now selling two new devices. That includes the less-expensive 5C and the higher-end 5S, both of which are a replacement to last year's iPhone 5, which has been discontinued. Yet the 5C is the only device up for presale, with Apple planning to begin sales of the 5S model at 12:01 a.m. PT on Friday, Sept. 20, as well as through its carrier partners.

Another possible reason: iPhone 5C sales may not be as impressive when stacked up against tallies from previous years. An analyst note on Friday suggested Apple was on track for around 1 million iPhone 5C preorders in its first day. That would be roughly half the 2 million preorders Apple reported following its first day of iPhone 5 presales, and closer to the company's total ahead of 2011's iPhone 4S. That smaller figure might not matter all that much if Apple goes on to sell more of both devices in the coming week than it did with last year's model, but certainly makes early comparisons more difficult.

One metric that's made early sales comparisons a bit simpler to get a grip on -- regardless of official numbers -- is availability of the device, which has typically sold out online. For last year's iPhone 5, that took less than an hour to happen. That's not the case with this year's 5C model, which can still be ordered from many places -- including Apple -- with a release-day delivery.

Apple did not respond to a query about whether it plans to announce pre-sales of the device.

Watch this: iPhone 5C makes its debut