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Tim Cook says the iPhone just had its best first month ever

Apple’s iPad event is just getting started, but CEO Tim Cook started off with a quick update on the iPhone, which is Apple’s most important product and business by far.

The company started shipping its new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus a few weeks ago. And while Cook didn’t announce the number of phones Apple has shipped so far—the company reports its fourth fiscal quarter results on Oct. 20—he offered some qualitative feedback.

Cook said that the iPhone generated its most first-month orders yet. And—paraphrasing—he added something like, “And I don’t mean by a little. I mean by a lot. A whole lot.” He also said pre-orders in China have set a new record.

How might this play into expectations around Apple’s earnings report? It’s interesting is that Cook is touting iPhone orders and not shipments. It’s well known that iPhone demand has outstripped supply so far. Does this suggest that fourth-quarter shipments will lag? (And, if so, does that mean that its forecast for the holiday quarter—when iPhone shipments might catch up to demand—could be even stronger than usual?)

Last year, Apple shipped almost 34 million iPhones during its fiscal fourth quarter. Anything more than 40 million this time would represent solid, accelerating growth. We’ll keep an eye on earnings previews as financial analysts publish them over the next few days. Apple shares are roughly flat for the day.

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