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iPhone pre-orders break records; analysts predict network impact

Apple said today that pre-orders for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus broke all previous records, with 4 million ordered in the first 24 hours. The company says it will not be able to meet demand this month, and that many people will get their new iPhones next month instead. There will be some inventory in Apple stores, starting this Friday, Sept. 19.

All four of the major U.S. carriers are getting the iPhone 6, but some may benefit more than others. For Sprint, this is the first iPhone that will be able to take advantage of its fastest LTE service, Sprint Spark. AT&T, the first U.S. carrier to offer the original iPhone, also stands to benefit this time around. Analyst Jennifer Fritzsche of Wells Fargo Securities said that AT&T’s decision to push its Next early upgrade plans should mean that it will see a large uptake on the iPhone 6 models.

“We look for all wireless carriers to benefit from the iPhone refresh, but in particular expect AT&T to see the proverbial fruits of its Next plans, starting in Q4,” said Fritzsche. “In back of the envelope math, if AT&T sells 10 million smartphones in Q4, driven primarily by the iPhone refresh demand, and assuming a 66% Next take-rate, it would equate to ~$2.8B in subsidy savings.”

Network impact
Each new iPhone model brings an increase in mobile network traffic, but the iPhone 6 could impact networks more than its predecessors.

“I think certainly the iPhone 6 is going to tax the networks more than what we’ve seen in the past with the other ones,” said analyst Daryl Schoolar of Ovum. “This phone really steps up the network impact versus the 5 and 5s, I think the 6 is a much bigger jump in terms of the network.”

“This device really is just going to be faster in terms of the data connection as you get carrier aggregation being rolled up here in the United States and other parts of the world, as you have the 802.11ac connection, and the iCloud is a good example too,” said Schoolar.

“One thing that kind of got lost in the Apple announcement on Tuesday was that they lowered iCloud storage rates by 70% or more and opened up much larger options,” said Bruce Miller, VP of product marketing at Wi-Fi access point maker Xirrus. “So I see a bigger use of cloud based services for offloading pictures, video, etc. and a lot of background syncing going on.”


Martha DeGrasse
Martha DeGrasse is the publisher of Network Builder Reports ( At RCR, Martha authored more than 20 in-depth feature reports and more than 2,400 news articles. She also created the Mobile Minute and the 5 Things to Know Today series. Prior to joining RCR Wireless News, Martha produced business and technology news for CNN and Dow Jones in New York and managed the online editorial group at Hoover’s Online before taking a number of years off to be at home when her children were young. Martha is the board president of Austin's Trinity Center and is a member of the Women's Wireless Leadership Forum.

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