Right on Target: Foursquare Accurately Predicts iPhone Sales

On Thursday, Foursquare released our first public predictions based on our global foot traffic data. We correlated foot traffic at Apple stores leading up to iPhone launches to the actual sales on launch weekends. We then found that this past week’s foot traffic seemed to indicate that sales of the new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus devices would be in the 13–15 million unit range.

The official sales figures are in and Apple is reporting that they indeed sold “more than 13 million” new iPhones this past weekend — neatly fitting right within our prediction window.

This validates the accuracy of our prediction and while we’re proud of the result, we certainly aren’t surprised. Foursquare’s data is essentially the world’s biggest panel of foot traffic data — we have the best sense of the trends and patterns of the movement of people and their phones around the world.

Foursquare and Swarm data from the past several years indicated that our best prediction would come from foot traffic on launch day — Friday, 9/25. Traffic that day ended up being slightly lower than the trend lines from earlier in the week; whereas the earlier days in the week indicated a 3.6x multiple over typical weekly traffic, launch day only showed a 3.2x multiple in traffic. This was in line with anecdotal observations from around the world that indicated that lines weren’t quite as long as expected. If we waited until all the data from Friday came in, we would have lowered our prediction slightly to 12–14 million units. Either way, our range was on target.

Notably, most analyst estimates seemed to point to record sales of over 10 million, but most expectations topped out around 12–13 million. Our bullish prediction was higher than others, but turned out to be more accurate.

Note: Apple Sales multiple estimated based on Q3 sales of around 48 million iPhone units; other years based on actual Q4 sales

To learn more about our insights or to get in touch with the Foursquare Place Insights team, visit https://places.foursquare.com/ or email partners@foursquare.com.

Additional Sources:

iPhone 5 launch weekend sales: http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2012/09/24iPhone-5-First-Weekend-Sales-Top-Five-Million.html

iPhone 5S launch weekend sales: http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2013/09/23First-Weekend-iPhone-Sales-Top-Nine-Million-Sets-New-Record.html

iPhone 6 launch weekend sales: http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2014/09/22First-Weekend-iPhone-Sales-Top-10-Million-Set-New-Record.html

Weekly iPhone sales are pulled from Apple’s Quarterly Earnings Releases, found at http://investor.apple.com/financials.cfm