Big iPhone 3GS numbers come from pre-existing Apple addicts

So, the numbers for opening weekend sales for the iPhone 3GS are out and holy cow they sold a bunch of them -- a cool million phones from the new models. The Computerworld story on the subject mostly consists of analysts having their minds boggled by the degree to which they underestimated the surge. Since everyone was comparing the iPhone to the Palm Pre last week when the Palm Pre hit the market, let's compare those numbers: the Pre, by best estimate, sold somewhere in the range of 50,000 to 100,000 units, which is an impressively large number but only 10 percent at best of iPhone 3GS sales.

A more intriguing batch of numbers from a survey from Piper Jaffray. AppleInsider runs the numbers in a story headlined "12% of early iPhone 3G buyers report ditching their BlackBerry" (and that should read "3GS" as near as I can tell from the numbers, but 3G is what they have on the site). But what's really interesting in the contained chart is that 56 percent of those iPhone 3GS buyers were upgrading from another iPhone. In other words, more than half of those initial weekend sales were from pent-up demand for a new, improved iPhone.

It's true that companies always love to poach users of other platforms, but there surely has to be a certain appeal to having a market of half a million people who'll shell out $200 every other year for your latest gizmo. My mind is frankly kind of boggled by it. I haven't seen any numbers yet for sales of the new reduced-price iPhone 3G; perhaps Apple hopes that these phones will be gateway drugs, getting their users hooked on the platform and willing to buy the high-end iPhone 4GX-3D when it hits stores in 2012.

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