Apple’s strategically timed iPhone 5 rollout schedule

Apple VP Phil Schiller announces week 2's rollouts

FORTUNE -- Several analysts have pointed out that the launch schedule for the iPhone 5 is the most aggressive Apple (aapl) has ever attempted.

It's a tribute to Tim Cook's supply chain management that he's able to promise delivery in more than 100 countries by Christmas. But the details of that rollout reflect the attention he pays to Apple's quarterly reports and their effect on the stock price -- something Steve Jobs didn't always do.

Let's compare rollouts:

  • iPhone 4: Launched in 5 countries June 24, 2010, 18 more by the end of July, 88 more in September.
  • iPhone 4S: Launched in 7 countries Oct. 14, 2011, 22 more by the end of October, over 70 more by the end of December.
  • iPhone 5: Launching in 9 countries Sept. 21, 22 more on Sept. 28, and reaching a total of more than 100 countries by the end of December

Now let's compare the timing of those rollouts:

  • iPhone 4: Launched 3 days before the end of fiscal Q3 2010, but in only 5 countries
  • iPhone 4S: Launched three weeks after the close of fiscal Q4, 2011
  • iPhone 5: Will have launched in 31 countries before the close of fiscal Q4, 2012

By packing in 31 countries before the quarter ends on Sept. 29, Cook has pretty much guaranteed that the iPhone 5 will break all previous sales records, and that the revenue from those sales will be reflected in the next earnings report.

Several analysts have already adjusted their Q4 iPhone unit sales estimates to reflect the aggressive launch schedule. We expect that more will do the same once they realize what it means.

See also: Apple's iPhone 5: What the analysts are saying

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