I look at where you walk, I'll tell you what you buy...

Graph showing the pedestrian traffic around Apple Stores in the three weeks preceding the launch of an iPhone. Credit: Foursquare

I stumbled onto an article published by Medium Corp. on Foursquare predicting a sale of 13-15 million iPhone in the first weekend of sales (started yesterday, Friday 25th).

It makes for an intriguing reading.

Foursquare has observed a correlation between the number of people walking around an Apple Store (and presumably entering the store) in the 3 weeks preceding the launch of a new iPhone and the number of iPhones actually sold in that first week end.

Based on this observation, they predict that the sales in this weekend will reach an all time high of 13-15 million iPhones (compare this with the 5 millions in 2012, 9 millions in 2013 and 10 millions in 2014).

Now, I will be watching out for the real data as they will become available, but in the meantime I am amazed at the kind of forecasts that are becoming possible by interpreting data. And it is also amazing that it has become so easy to track the whereabouts of people!

At Foursquare they have a team of analysts, Place Insights, that look at the data of people's whereabout trying to find signs of some specific behaviour. 

Looking at walking around Apple stores one can see a cyclic pattern, depending on the day of the week and the time of the year. They noticed a marked increase in traffic, between 200 and 300 times with respect to normal Fridays, happening on the launch day of an iPhone. and they also measured the increase in traffic vs the sales over the last 3 years detecting a relation that they are now using for predicting this years sales.  Will see how accurate that is...

Author - Roberto Saracco

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