Stop Worrying About Apple Store Lines

You just can't make this stuff up. I've read multiple headlines this morning all showing conflicting reports on why Apple will sell more, or less, iPhones than it did last year -- all based on how many people are lining up around its stores.

Here are just a few:

  • "Apple's iPhone 5s and 5c draw massive crowds on launch day"

  • "iPhone customer lines flat or slightly up over 2012 -- analyst"

  • "Apple's iPhone 5s And 5c Launch Draws Big Crowds, Including Biggest Ever Line At NYC Flagship Store"

  • "Fanfare fades as Apple rolls out its new line of iPhones"

Apple's 5th Avenue Store in NYC. Source: Apple.

Why the conflicting reports? Because, unfortunately, many media outlets want to be the first to make the call on whether or not the 5c and 5s are successful.

But they're all missing one minor detail -- the facts.

Apple hasn't reported any details on pre-orders of the phones, which is a first for the company. In 2010, we knew 600,000 iPhones had been pre-ordered. Then in 2011 and 2012, Apple said 1 million and 2 million had been ordered, respectively, before the sale launch date.

But we haven't gotten any pre-order numbers for Apple, and we certainly don't have any weekend sales numbers yet. All we have is people standing in line.

Last year, Apple sold 5 million iPhones over its launch weekend and analysts are expecting the company to hit 6 million this year. But until we get the news from Apple, investors need to do one thing: Wait. Relax. Calm down.

The numbers will come out and investors will be able to find out how well consumers responded to the new devices. But for now, counting heads isn't a great strategy for deciding whether to buy or sell Apple stock. When the iPhone 5 launched in China, media reports kept saying lines at Apple Stores in China were small and concluded the phones weren't selling well. Meanwhile, customers were actually buying contract iPhones in other stores, as opposed to the no-contract phones sold in Apple Stores.

So let's all take a breather and wait for the actual sales numbers to surface before we start deciding whether the iPhone 5s and 5c have flopped or flourished. Foolish investors don't make decisions based on headlines, and they certainly take a longer view than what's happening in single day -- or even weekend -- of sales.

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Fool contributor Chris Neiger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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