Apr 21

Tomi Ahonen, former Nokia executive and self-professed expert on mobile phones, 11 days ago:

You read it right. I am writing the first history of the
once-iconic iPhone, written now in early April 2010, before Apple
has released its first quarter earnings for 2010. This is
literally the peak of the short reign that Apple’s iPhone had as
the most emulated smartphone. […] And mark my words, the numbers
are now very clear, Apple’s market share peak among smartphones,
and among all handsets, on an annual basis, is being witnessed
now. Yes its true, Apple cannot grow market share into 2011. But
its not for reasons you might think.

[ten thousand words of gibberish snipped]

The Apple iPhone sales pattern differs from all other major
smartphone makers because Apple only releases one new model per
year. So the sales take off strongly and then decline as the
rivals keep releasing newer phones. Apple’s best quarter is its
Christmas quarter. This year they were not able to grow market
share. And we already know, that Apple’s January-March quarter was
a heavy fall from the Christmas level of sales (as it always is,
this is the normal pattern).

Apple, today:

The Company sold 8.75 million iPhones in the quarter, representing
131 percent unit growth over the year-ago quarter.

So the “heavy fall from the Christmas level of sales” we “already know” about was, uh, an increase of 50,000 iPhones. This was the most iPhones Apple has ever sold in a quarter. (And does not count the 63 percent year-over-year growth in sales of the iPod Touch.)

[From Claim Chowder: Tomi Ahonen on iPhone Sales]

Making predictions is a tough business 🙂

One Response to “Claim Chowder: Tomi Ahonen on iPhone Sales”

  1. HI William and readers of this blog

    I am ‘that’ Tomi Ahonen who made that blog posting.

    Thanks for mentioning my comment. I am here to mention a few relevant points. First – that you do have my quote correctly, it is in context, that is what I wrote. Obviously I wrote it more than a week prior to Apple’s quarterly results and I stood by it until we had Apple’s results.

    There was a pattern we saw in January of 2008 and in January of 2009, that after Christmas, Apple iPhone sales fall dramatically. That same pattern also repeated from the iPod. It was not only me thinking so, in fact EVERY ONE of the major published analysts of iPhone forecasts for January quarter of 2010 suggested this same phenomenon – over 40 of them. Not one analyst suggested that there was a pattern of iPhone sales increasing after Christmas.

    My forecast – on my blog – was for 7.4 Million iPhone unit sales in Q1 of 2010. That was clearly off as Apple’s quarter reported 8.75 Million unit sales. But please note, that the ‘street average’ estimate was for 7.1 Million iPhones with most estimates between 6.8 million and 7.5 million. I was at the top end of all forecasts for this quarter. Where every forecaster was wrong, I was at least among those who were ‘least bit wrong’ haha.

    I am very honest about my numbers. I Tweeted within a minute of the announced numbers that my forecast had been too low. I wrote on my blog to that very blog story – an IMMEDIATE update to the top of the blog article, that Apple’s quarterly results reveal my Q1 forecast to have been wrong – and I point out about the major themes of that blog article – that the new numbers ‘do not support my hypothesis’. I think this shows honesty and respect of my readers. I don’t see most of the other analysts coming back on the same day to show how wrong their forecast had been and warn readers that after the numbers came in, some assumptions of the analysis are now subject to new interpretation. Within two hours I also wrote a longer blog explaining what numbers had been reported by Apple and why these were a change to Apple’s pattern and why that is relevant to the industry.

    But most of all, I am passionate about my numbers. I knew the whole analyst industry was stumped this Q1 of 2010 nobody got it right. So where were the numbers? I went on an immediate search and re-analysis and digging through the data, and I found the ‘missing million’ new iPhone buyers that had suddenly appeared in January of 2010. I posted that update as a separate blog entry explaining that it was the gift-giving period of the Lunar New Year in China which this year was in early February (Chinese Year of the Tiger started on Feb 14). My analysis has since been quoted rather widely and found to be consistent with the facts by many of my peers. I could say, I ‘broke’ the story of where are the ‘missing millions’. I think this is also a sign of a responsible forecaster, to admit when they were wrong, and then try to find out why.

    I hope your readers can take these as points to consider when comparing me to perhaps another forecaster they may have read who also predicted something like 7.1 million iPhone sales this past quarter.

    Thank you

    Tomi Ahonen
    Twittering as @tomiahonen
    wwww tomiahonen com

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