Analyst Estimates On iPhone 5 Launch Weekend Sales Range From 3M-10M

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Analysts have begun making their predictions about the iPhone 5′s odds of success for launch weekend sales, and in fact there’s quite a range when it comes to how the experts see things shaking out. After Apple unveiled iPhone 5 pre-order totals of 2 million over 24 hours, double the 1 million the iPhone 4S managed, it would seem like multiplying out the 4S launch weekend total of 4 million total sales is a safe bet. But that’s not necessarily the tack all industry analysts are taking.

Shaw Wu of Sterne Agee, for instance, shared that his firm is estimating around between 3 and 3.5 million sales of the iPhone 5 during the launch weekend, but that’s just an extrapolated number Wu tells me, coming out of its quarterly projections for the device, and meant only to loosely represent the first few days as it relates to the rest of the three-month period. Overall, Wu said in an investor note today that estimates for the September quarter are up to 27 million, raised from 26 million projected before Apple revealed the strength of its pre-order success. The initial response also hasn’t significantly affected longer-term outlooks, with Agee adding only 500,000 (to make 46.5 million total) to its earlier prediction, owing to continued reports of supply constraints on the iPhone 5′s newly redesigned touchscreens.

Peter Misek of Jeffries thinks that Apple will indeed double its past performance, hitting around 8 million total units sold by the end of launch weekend, with pre-orders included. Misek thinks that a prevailing view on Wall Street that suggests supply constraints will keep the number at or below 6 million are overblown. Long-term, he told CNBC that he believes key drivers for Apple could be securing deals with Japan’s NTT DoCoMo, the last remaining major carrier in that country that doesn’t offer the iPhone, but lately there’s been talk that the iPhone 5 could in fact be a major pain point for DoCoMo, since no announcement has yet been forthcoming about bringing it to that carrier’s considerable LTE network.

Gene Munster, longtime champion of the standalone Apple TV and Piper Jaffray analyst, suggested Monday that Apple will deliver between 6 and 10 million iPhone 5 sales during launch weekend, likely hitting the 8 million sweet spot. That’s due in part to the 100 percent year-over-year increase in pre-order sales, but also based on the knowledge that pre-orders formed 25 percent of last year’s opening weekend sales, hence arriving at 8 million from 2 million pre-orders.

There are new variables at play this time, like an expanded pool of launch countries that includes Hong Kong, always a popular destination for grey market resellers. Even factoring in new countries, Asymco’s Horace Dediu predicted last week that we’d see around 6 million in initial sales, based on an increase in units sold per day in line with previous launches.

Unlike the 4S, this is also a complete visual redesign, and new aesthetics are bound to make a splash with the general buying public, aside from any consideration of features or specs, so that’s a variable that it’s hard to put exact numbers behind. Whatever happens, the bottom line is that iPhone 5 launch weekend sales likely won’t disappoint.