Apple (AAPL) shares broke the $700 price level for the first time Monday after the Cupertino tech giant confirmed that pre-orders of the upcoming iPhone 5 hit 2 million in the first 24 hours, doubling the record set by the previous iteration of the popular smartphone.
The iPhone 5 began selling on Apple's website and the sites of carriers at midnight Pacific time Friday, and demand was so intense that arrival dates were pushed back from the official launch of Sept. 21 within an hour, analysts tracking the orders said.
Monday morning, Apple announced that
it had sold 2 million of the devices in the first 24 hours of availability, double the record set by the previous smartphone the company released, in 2011, the iPhone 4S. The company also said that some customers will not receive their pre-ordered devices until next month due to the high demand.
"iPhone 5 pre-orders have shattered the previous record held by iPhone 4S and the customer response to iPhone 5 has been phenomenal," Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said in a news release Monday morning. "iPhone 5 is the best iPhone yet, the most beautiful product we've ever made, and we hope customers love it as much as we do."
Apple sold 5 million iPhones in the first three days of orders, Baird Equity Research analyst William Power estimated Monday morning.
The popularity of the iPhone, which accounts for more than half of Apple's profits, has pushed the company's stock to record heights, with Apple setting a record last month for largest market capitalization in history, without adjusting for inflation. Apple stock hit new intraday highs three times last week, and opened at a record $699.35 Monday morning.
After reaching as high as $699.54 early in Monday trading, shares declined slightly before moving higher again and breaking $700 for the first time. They then fell back to $699.78 at the close, but rose to $701.90 in after-hours trading.
The iPhone 5 is Apple's lightest, largest and fastest smartphone to date, with the screen increasing from 3.5 inches to 4 inches and compatibility with quicker 4G, or LTE, cellular networks.
Apple announced an aggressive launch strategy for the new device. It will be sold in stores in the United States and eight other countries Sept. 21, and will be offered in 100 countries by the end of the year. The move excited analysts, who pushed their estimates for iPhone sales higher and followed that up with higher price targets for Apple stock.
Estimates continued to increase Monday, with Canaccord Genuity tech analyst Michael Walkley saying Monday morning that he expects Apple to ship up to 10 million iPhones between launch day Friday and Sept. 29.
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