Scenes of fans camped outside one of London’s biggest Apple stores can only mean one thing – a new product from the U.S. tech giant.
The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus go on sale Friday as fans brave the cold to get their hands on the latest handset while investors await to see whether Apple’s flagship product still has legs.
Earlier this month, Apple said the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus were “on pace to beat last year’s 10 million unit first-weekend record” in terms of sales, when the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus went on sale in 2014. But the Cupertino, CA-based tech giant didn’t crack out the exact figures it is expecting.
Analysts at FBR Capital Markets noted that there will only be two days of iPhone 6s and 6s Plus sales included in the September quarter which closes on Saturday versus nine days in the previous year. But in the December quarter, the research firm said that Apple is on “a trajectory to exceed Herculean-like YOY (year-on-year) iPhone 6 comps in the December quarter with our estimates now 77 million units (versus our prior 74 million), likely alleviating lingering bear chatter”.
‘Desperate’ for an iPhone
Regardless of the focus of investors, fans are waiting eagerly for the new phones to make sure they can get the newest colors before the stocks go. The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus will be available in four colors and will be available in 12 countries including the U.S., U.K. and China starting from Friday.
Sam Sheikh has been queuing since Monday at 9PM London time, 83 hours. He was the first in line.
“I’m a big Apple fan and I wanted to have the rose gold model which I’m desperate for and I heard they have very limited stock,” Sheikh told CNBC, adding that he was also first in line for the iPhone 6 last year.
But Jesse Green, the second person in line who met Sheikh last year, said that the atmosphere “hasn’t been as good” as last year, due to people pre-ordering online.
Another punter, Thien Nguyen, has been queing up outside the Covent Garden Apple store in the heart of London since Thursday evening for over 12 hours, waiting to buy the phone for his mum’s birthday.
“I mean, it does get boring but I came by myself so I was forced into talking to other people to kill time. I’ve made a few friends here,” Nguyen told CNBC.
Apple’s stock price had a rocky quarter in the June quarter. The company sold 47.5 million iPhones in the three months to June 27, below Wall Street’s expectations of around 50 million units. The share price was hammered as a result. To add to this, concerns over Apple’s ability to continue growth in the China, which accounted for around 27 percent of revenue in the June quarter, was also questioned amid concerns over growth in the world’s second-largest economy.
But in an email to CNBC’s Jim Cramer, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company was seeing “strong growth” in China, in a bid to comfort investors, a tack that seems to be working.
“With initial pre-order sales looking particularly strong out of the linchpin China region, we believe the combination of strong first weekend sales and potential upside to iPhone numbers for the next few quarters should help remove the ‘China iPhone black cloud’ hovering over Apple for the last few months,” Daniel Ives, analyst at FBR Capital Markets wrote in a note on Monday. He maintained his “outperform” rating on the Apple stock with a price target of $175.
3D touch, Camera
Earlier this month, Apple took the wraps off the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus with incremental upgrades like the “s” models usual have. One of the features generating the most buzz is the so-called “3D Touch”, which allows users to carry out different functions depending on how much pressure they put on the screen. Apple has used a new chip in the phone, and unveiled an improved camera.
Of course, Apple is not the only smartphone maker to have released new products in the last few months. Huawei and Samsung have both come to market with flagship premium offerings. But analysts said the “disappointing” prodcuts from other vendors could give Apple an advantage.
“A lot of people haven’t switched to the Apple iPhone 6 this time, so a 6s provides an opportunity for them to do that. Again, you look at what Samsung has done and it’s been a bit disappointing I feel in terms of the product. So people might just spring for the Apple iPhone 6s” Clement Teo, senior analyst at Forrester, told CNBC in an interview on Friday.
– Additional reporting by CNBC’s Phil Han