Looks like the iPhone hasn't lost its mojo after all. Apple announced today that more than 1 million iPhone 3G S had been sold during its debut weekend, well ahead of analyst expectations. Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster earlier today had upped his estimate of 3G S sales to 750,000 from 500,000, but still came up short.
Anecdotal evidence of crowds at Apple stores Friday also suggested demand wasn't as feverish as for prior iPhone launches.
Adding an element of surprise, the announcement featured a quote from Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who has been on medical leave since January and whom The Wall Street Journal two days ago reported has been recovering from liver transplant surgery.
"Customers are voting and the iPhone is winning," said Jobs, in the statement. "With over 50,000 applications available from Apple's revolutionary App Store, iPhone momentum is stronger than ever." Jobs is still expected to return by the end of June. Apple also said that six million customers had downloaded the new iPhone 3.0 operating system boasting more than 100 added features. Few had predicted that the iPhone 3G S would match the million units sold out of the gate by the 3G model a year ago, especially since it was released in only eight countries, compared to 21 last year.
In another promising sign for, 12% of customers buying their first iPhone said they were switching from a BlackBerry device, up from 6% last year, according to an informal survey done by Munster. The shift could mean more smartphone users are becoming comfortable with the iPhone for corporate use.