iPhone Sales Estimates: Pay Attention

Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Katy Huberty’s note covering an AlphaWise survey of U.S. consumers conducted for Morgan Stanley the week after Thanksgiving:

“Surprisingly,” she writes, “US consumers expect to buy more iPhones in C1Q12 than C4Q11” (emphasis hers). Even discounting the survey results 10%, that suggests Apple could sell 13 million iPhones in the U.S. and 41 million worldwide next quarter. Morgan Stanley’s model has Apple selling 30 million iPhones in calendar Q1 2012.

Kary Huberty, mind you, is Morgan Stanley’s “cheif Apple analyst”. We continue to see almost every “business analyst” who covers Apple have no idea what’s going on with Apple’s business. Morgan Stanley’s 30 million estimate is actually not terribly off the mark, but it shouldn’t be surprising at all that consumers expect to buy more iPhones in Q1 of next year than Q4 of this year – especially if you’re an Apple analyst.

Obviously holiday sales are huge and intuitively it makes sense that Q4 would be the strongest for iPhone sales every year. But if you’ve been paying any attention, you’ll know every year since the iPhone launched Q1 sales have gotten closer to matching the Q4 they follow, and Q1 of this year actually beat Q4 for last year. And this year we’re even closer to the beginning of the iPhone refresh cadence than usual.

Also remember: as of Q2 of this year, Apple brings in more revenue from each iPhone sale than each iPad sale.

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