Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus: Why millions are missing in action

“Apple announced Monday that it sold more than 10 million new iPhones over the first three days of sales — defying analysts’ predictions and beating last year’s record 9 million,” Philip Elmer-DeWitt reports for Fortune. “How were those sales split between the big iPhone 6 and the bigger (and more profitable) iPhone 6 Plus?”

Mobile analytics firms “all show iPhone 6 activity (in-app purchases, etc.) over the first three days outpacing the iPhone 6 Plus by more than seven to one,” P.E.D. reports. “Yet a Piper Jaffray survey of 386 customers lined up Friday to buy iPhones in New York City and Minneapolis returned a very different result: More than half (57%) said they were in the queue to buy the iPhone 6 Plus. Only 43% were there for the iPhone 6.”

“What explains it? China,” P.E.D. reports. “Resellers buying for the Chinese market — where demand for Galaxy Note-size phones is strong and the new iPhones not yet available — dominated first-day Apple Store lines in the U.S., especially in cities like New York, where the Chinese American population, according the 2012 census, is 522,619. On Saturday, one visitor estimated, 90% of the buyers at the Apple’s Soho store were Asians.”

Much more in the full article here.

Related articles:
Chinese scalpers and publicity seekers replace Apple fans in iPhone 6 queues – September 20, 2014
Cupertino, we have a problem: iPhone 6 lines and the Chinese mafia – September 20, 2014
Apple controls Chinese scalpers with lottery; online iPhone 4S sales resume – February 3, 2012
Apple combats Hong Kong scalpers with new iPhone reservations lottery system – January 30, 2012
Apple suspends iPhone 4S sales in mainland China retail stores – January 13, 2012
Beijing’s iPhone 4S turmoil a lesson to Apple, say analysts – January 13, 2012
Beijing Apple Store pelted with eggs after iPhone 4S sales canceled due to scalper fights – January 12, 2012
Huge throng of red cap scalpers crushes Shanghai Apple Store for iPhone 4S launch (with photo) – January 12, 2012
Hong Kong scalpers buy up iPhone 4S and resell them for big profit outside Apple Store (with video) – November 12, 2011
Police, scalpers, and customers clash in iPhone 4S queues at Hong Kong Apple Store – November 10, 2011
iPad 2, white iPhone 4 sparks scuffle outside Beijing Apple Store – May 9, 2011
Apple takes steps to curb rampant iPhone 4 scalping in China – October 11, 2010
Apple shuts flagship Beijing store as scalpers sap store’s iPhone 4 supply – September 30, 2010


      1. Although it is worth noting this time frame is likely just a worst case scenario type thing, because another line on my account was upgraded 30 minutes after this one and we received it Monday, even though it’s estimated delivery was also 10/2 – 10/13. But it was an iPhone 6 Plus 16 GB Silver, so they probably had more of those than Space Gray.

    1. The Apple iPhones 6/6plus being sold by Apple Stores a almost all LOCKED to specific carriers and can only be sold on discount with a two year contract, either new, renewal, or carrier payment-plan. Today, Monday, September 22, 2014, while waiting in line with approximately 30 other iPhone 6 buyers (they were all out of 6plus, and all 16 GB models except those for Sprint) at the Arden Fair Sacramento Apple Store at 3:30 PM with my girlfriend to buy her a Verizon, 64GB Gold, a couple of Asian men got in line wanting to buy “several unlocked iPhone 6 regardless of color.” The concierge in charge of the line told them that Apple policy was to NOT sell any unlocked iPhones and that Apple only had iPhones in stock that were locked to specific carriers. They were welcome to buy a locked one for any carrier without a contract, but the unlocking must be done by the carrier, and as far as the concierge knew, none of them were willing to do so at this time. So much for the myth of buying a $300 iPhone 6plus and selling it for $3000 in China.

  1. I don’t understand how just because 57% of line sitters, who were waiting for an iPhone 6 Plus, automatically translates into the the Plus having the same or more overall sales than the iPhone 6. The 7 to 1 ratio makes perfect sense to me. With everyone complaining that the iPhone was going to be too big at 4.7″ and 5.5″ it only makes sense that the smaller option would sell better. I actually had a girl come up to me while I was looking at the iPhone 6 and ask me if that was the bigger one. I said it wasn’t, which shocked her and prompted her to leave the store saying it’s way too big and that she would never buy one. In addition to this there are reports that there is a high fail rate on production, leading to a lot less available at launch.

    Line sitters represent a fraction of the overall sales channel for Apple. Going by a small sample does not translate into an accurate picture when many traditional outlets didn’t even carry the iPhone 6 Plus. I bought two 6’s at Best Buy and they never got in any pluses. It also sounds like, from what I’ve been told, that it might take months for them to get any in, and it quite possibly may not come in until 2015!!

    China is a possibility, but I think that’s an easy finger to point. I think that a lack of availability on the presale and at other retailers led to more people waiting in lines for pluses.

  2. I believe this.. Whole heartedly.

    Mac Daddy, it wasn’t a few. This was a global black market phenomenon. It happened in many US cities, if not all. It happened in Europe and Australia.

    The first iPhone image of a bent sat upon wreck, was from a Chinese national who was sad that they flew all the way to Australia for nothing, just to get the new iPhone and have this happen. (Back pocket) It seems the Chinese have more money than they know what to do with it. At least this person had the moral standard to go and get it themselves. More likely though most iPhones in China now, were purchased via scalping methods.

    These iPhones won’t show up on metrics, until they are resold for $2K or so, as much as $3600.

    With that said, there’s a lot of moving parts to this, and it’s virtually impossible to tell exactly what happened. It was amazing none the less. In time we will know, and a few nice documentaries will come out of it. This was history making.

  3. two years ago when I was at the Soho store to buy the iPhone 5, I thought i was strange that there were all these Asians in line and nobody spoke English.They may have been first in line – but other went in before them because of the lack of speaking English .Nobody knew what the wanted.As I was leaving I saw they had brought in a translator it was very bizarre

  4. I sure hope when the iPhone 7 comes out, there will be a size option like the 5s, because that 6+ is way too big (for me anyways). I’m sure I’m not alone when saying that not all of us want a size increase. IF they just keep getting bigger and bigger, I’ll be sticking with the 5s for awhile.

    1. I always thought the 4″ screen of the 5 series was perfect.
      Now that I have my iPhone 6 (4.7″) while it *IS* a little big, it’s manageable. I will stay with the iPhone 6 size, never get a 6+ and hope Apple doesn’t start making bigger phablets…

      If I want something bigger than my 4.7″ iPhone 6 I will use my iPad.

  5. The article misses the obvious. There was less stock of the iPhone 6 Plus. Thus, this weekend my girlfriend and I experienced the same exact thing… She didn’t pre-order and just showed up on Saturday to pick up an iPhone 6. I stayed up to pre-order and was pounding away on multiple Macs and iOS devices to get my pre-order in at 12:31am PDT and won’t be getting my iPhone 6 Plus until this Thursday.

    TL;DR: The article made the mistake of comparing what people wanted to buy to what people received over the weekend. Supply issues affected the initial results. They’ll need to wait a month or so for real comparison results.

    1. True, really too many factors that may have played a part.. Lower inventory of 6 plus for various reasons, possible high percentage of pluses by foreign scalpers, there may be a correlation between larger screen sizes and the tendency to use online (which might explain low online usage historically for large phones), It may be interesting to see if the 1:7 ratio holds for phone registration records Apple has.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.