If the U.S. economy looks a little merrier this December, its Santa Claus will be the iPhone 5.
U.S. sales of Apple’s latest must-have gadget could pump more than $3 billion into the economy by year’s end, say some economists and technology analysts.
All told, the iPhone 5 could add a quarter-percentage point to the U.S. economy’s growth in the next three months, says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.
The phones went on sale Friday. Many stores were sold out Sunday and were awaiting new shipments. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster estimated Apple sold 8 million phones since sales began Friday.
Apple is expected to report official weekend sales figures Monday.
Munster’s estimate could mean pre-sale estimates of the iPhone 5’s economic impact were too conservative. JPMorgan Chase analysts had estimated earlier this month that about 8 million iPhone 5s would be sold in the U.S. through Dec. 31, enough to add a third of a percentage point to the economy’s annual growth rate in the fourth quarter.
Wherever sales end up this year, it doesn’t mean the iPhone 5 alone will revive the sluggish economy. “Some of the increased spending on iPhones will be offset by less spending on other things,” Zandi says.