AT&T: iPhone 5 Set Sales Record, Was “Most Successful iPhone Launch Ever”

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Whether or not you’re an Apple fanboy or fangirl, it’s no secret that the iPhone has been selling like hotcakes. Every time Apple launches a new iPhone or iPhone(S), it seems that the Internet is about to explode. Naturally, when the iPhone 5 was announced, many were curious to see if it would actually contain any significant leaps in innovation from prior iterations, whether it would exceed expectations or if, instead, eye-rolling and “mehs” would win the day.

Though there’s already been early indication that demand for the iPhone 5 exceeds that of those prior, this morning AT&T confirmed just how significant that demand already is, calling it the “most successful iPhone launch ever.” AT&T said in a press release today that the iPhone 5 pre-orders set a sales record over the weekend, making it the “fastest-selling iPhone” the company has offered to date.

Already, customers have apparently ordered more iPhone 5s in during the first weekend of availability “than any previous model,” AT&T said. Hot cakes indeed.

Pre-orders for the iPhone 5 went on sale at midnight (PST) last Friday. Within an hour, Apple sold out of its pre-order stock, as Billy wrote at the time. What’s more, customer demand in the first hour caused brief outages on Apple.com as well as on carrier websites.

Comparatively, the iPhone 4S took 22 hours to sell out, while the iPhone 4 sold out of pre-orders in 20 hours. While that would be considered a categorical success by most standards, the iPhone 5 sold out nearly 20-times faster than the 4 and 4S. The demand for the iPhone caused Apple to adjust its shipping expectations from one to two weeks on Friday, which has since increased to between two to three weeks.

However, to this point, AppleInsider reported this morning that the first iPhone 5 orders have begun to ship from China, although it looks like the phones aren’t scheduled to arrive until September 21st, which is the iPhone 5’s “official” launch date (i.e. when they go on sale in stores.)

According to Fortune, people have already begun lining up outside the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue in New York City to be among the first to get their hands on the iPhone 5 when it hits stores on the 21st. Yes, that means they’re lining up eight days early. Do these people not have jobs? Please don’t tell me they’re taking their vacation days for this.

Apparently, the demand for the iPhone 5 has been so great that it even caught Apple by surprise. Apple spokeswoman Nat Kerris told AllThingsD on Friday that pre-order demand for the iPhone 5 has “been incredible” and that the company has been “completely blown away by the customer response.”

Obviously, Apple would say that, but AT&T’s announcement this morning makes it impossible to ignore the fact that the iPhone 5 is shaping up to catapult Apple into the stratosphere. Again? Again. Ugh. But AT&T saying the iPhone 5 was the “most successful iPhone launch ever” is simple math. AT&T isn’t dumb enough to fudge that.

While, historically, many have been unhappy with spotty coverage and service on AT&T iPhones, being the first carrier to support the iPhone when it first launched in 2007 — and its continued support since — has obviously been a huge boon for AT&T. The iPhone 5 looks to continue that, and it will be interesting to see if the carrier struggles to keep up with and support the influx of new users.

However, one thing that is conspicuously missing from AT&T’s announcement this morning … numbers. AT&T has not (as of yet) released any numbers or statistics on how many orders it received over the weekend, which would help give color to its statement that this is the most. successful. launch. EVAR. Right now, it’s just good cheerleading.

As for Apple, the company generally releases numbers on pre-order sales after the first weekend. Skeptics will of course argue that Apple may have kept pre-order supply low to artificially manufacture the hype and make it easy to surpass expectations (bla bla), but, at this point, all signs point to the contrary. [Update below.]

Numbers from both AT&T and Apple will be forthcoming, and we’ll update as soon as we learn more.

Press release below:

DALLAS, Sept. 17, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — AT&T* set a sales record with iPhone 5 over the weekend, making it the fastest-selling iPhone the company has ever offered. Customers ordered more iPhones from AT&T than any previous model both on its first day of preorders and over the weekend.

iPhone 5 is still available for preorder at http://www.att.com/iphone and will be available in AT&T retail stores beginning at 8 am local time on Friday, September 21.

AT&T offers a number of advantages for iPhone 5 customers.

AT&T’s network lets you talk and surf the web at the same time.

Largest 4G Network. Customers get blazing-fast speeds on the nation’s largest 4G network, covering 275 million people.

Flexible Rate Plans. AT&T doesn’t force customers to switch data plans to get the best device price when they upgrade to a new device and new AT&T customers aren’t forced into a certain plan; they have the flexibility to choose from one of several individual or Mobile Share plans.

More customers choose AT&T for iPhone than any other U.S. carrier.

For more information on iPhone 5, please visit: http://www.att.com/iphone .

*AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.

UPDATE: Yup, and there it is. Apple has released its numbers for the first day of iPhone 5 sales, and it’s a record. The company sold 2 million phones in the first 24-hours of pre-order alone, double the sales of the 4S during its first day of availability. Doesn’t get more concrete than that, though we’ll find out first-weekend numbers soon.