Apple rings up 5 million iPhone 5 sales, millions more in transit

Apple's iPhone 5 blasted out of the gate with its U.S. launch, recording more than 5 million units sold within the first three days of its release on Sept. 21. The numbers could have been higher, if not for a delay in delivering the new smartphone to some customers who ordered online.

Component shortages, including parts needed for the iPhone's display screen, caused the supply shortfalls, according to Shaw Wu, an analyst at Sterne Agee & Leach. Apple could have sold as many as 2 million more handsets without those constraints, Wu wrote in a research report.

Apple said it does not report online orders as sales until the products reach customers. The 5-million-unit figure includes sales from wireless carriers, retail outlets, Apple stores and online orders that were actually received.

In a statement issued Sept. 24, Apple explained that "while the majority of pre-orders have been shipped to customers, many are scheduled to be shipped in October.

Brian Marshall, an analyst at ISI Group, told the Bloomberg news service that units in transit could be in the millions.

The iPhone accounts for about two-thirds of Apple's profit, according to Bloomberg. Sales from the new model's launch will be included in Apple’s financial results for the fiscal fourth quarter, which ends Sept. 30. The company is expected to report profit of $8.35 billion on sales of $36.1 billion, according to an average of analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

“Demand for iPhone 5 has been incredible and we are working hard to get an iPhone 5 into the hands of every customer who wants one as quickly as possible,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, in a press release. “While we have sold out of our initial supply, stores continue to receive iPhone 5 shipments regularly and customers can continue to order online and receive an estimated delivery date. We appreciate everyone’s patience and are working hard to build enough iPhone 5s for everyone.”

Apple said more than 100 million devices have been updated with iOS 6, the latest version of the company's mobile operating system. The previous version , iOS 5, tallied 25 million downloads when it was released a year ago.

Notably absent from iOS 6 is Google Maps, which has been replaced by Apple-developed mapping and navigation features. After testing Apple's new navigation app, Consumer Reports commented that the software "does not have route preference settings, choices for avoidance preferences, exit guides and lane assistance…The information provided to the driver is sparse.’’

Click here for a report on Apple Maps failing to find hospitals and ERs.