Earlier this month, Re/code said it had finally heard
word of the official launch date for
's highly anticipated iPhone 6: Tuesday, September 9. As the
date approaches, it's a great time to revisit the trajectory of
Apple's iPhone business to help us make some guesses about the
potential for Apple's next-generation iPhone. Is there still room
left for the world's largest tech company to grow sales of its
most important product? Absolutely.
4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone 6
pictured with the 4-inch iPhone 5s. Source: 9to5Mac, used
In three simple charts, here is why Apple's iPhone 6 is almost
certainly to lead the company into yet another year of record
Apple's iPhone business hasn't peaked yet
Looking at historical sales of the iPhone, there aren't any signs
that annual unit sales growth is hitting a roof.
Consider the company's trend of annual iPhone sales to
Data for chart retrieved from quarterly SEC filings. The 2015
figure, marked with an asterisk, is an estimate based on an
extrapolation of the growth rate achieved in 2014. Fiscal
Given Apple's historical iPhone sales growth, combined with
the refresh of its flagship iPhone and a price cut to its
existing line, Apple could sell close to 190 million iPhones in
the next twelve months. This would be two consecutive years of
15% growth to iPhone unit sales for Apple.
But, for two key reasons, this growth projection for Apple's
iPhone line in 2015 may prove to be too conservative.
- There is a
larger than usual
percentage of wireless subscribers who are eligible for
subsidized iPhone upgrades in the U.S.
- Rumored to launch in two different models, both with larger
screens, the iPhone 6 should help Apple tap in to
in a proven market for displays larger than 4
China Mobile will be a key catalyst
China and, more specifically, China Mobile, will continue to be a
catalyst for iPhone sales growth for years to come. The best way
to see the potential for growth in iPhone sales at the world's
largest carrier is to observe just how tiny the carrier's 4G
penetration is today.
Data for chart retrieved from China Mobile's monthly operating
data. Figures are in thousands.
While the key takeaway from the chart is the opportunity for
hundreds of millions of smartphone sales over the long haul as
users transition to 4G phones, it's always worth noting just how
promising the trend of 4G-supported smartphone sales for China
Mobile has been so far.
First, when put in perspective, 20 million 4G subscribers for
China Mobile is quite an achievement, indicative of just how fast
it is growing its 4G network. Consider that the carrier didn't
even begin to roll out its 4G network, which supports the iPhone,
until January this year.
Second, the absolute number of incremental China 4G
subscribers has been larger each month since 4G figures were
first reported in February. Between June and July, China Mobile
added an impressive 6.5 million 4G subscribers.
And if there's any doubt that Apple will benefit from this
trend, this data point should soothe concerns: four out of five
of the 27% of smartphones in China that cost $500 plus are
iPhones, according to Chinese app analytics company Umeng.
The global iPhone launch continues to grow
operational wizard Tim Cook
at the helm of Apple, the company continues to pull off
bigger and bigger initial roll-outs every time the iPhone is
Production is always the key factor limiting iPhone sales in
the first few months of availability -- not demand. Last year was
no exception. While the iPhone 5c seemed to be available in
excess, the iPhone 5s was stricken by supply constraints in less
than 2 days. Nevertheless, Apple's opening weekend sales and
its holiday quarter sales surpassed those in the year before,
thanks in part to greater supply. In fact, Apple was able to
offer so many iPhones in the first few months that it was
confident enough to add in China among the countries that can buy
the iPhone when it first hit the shelves.
This operational feat is best illustrated by looking at
Apple's fast-growing opening weekend sales in subsequent iPhone
Opening weekend iPhone sales continue to grow as Apple beefs
up initial supply and adds countries to the list of markets
included in the initial rollout. Data retrieved from Apple press
Combining the general trend of Apple's growing iPhone
business, growth opportunity in China, and Apple's improving
initial iPhone supply during the first months of its
availability, the iPhone 6 looks poised to help Apple set new
Leaked: Apple's next smart device (warning, it may
Apple recently recruited a secret-development "dream team" to
guarantee its newest smart device was kept hidden from the
public for as long as possible. But the secret is out, and
some early viewers are claiming its everyday impact could
trump the iPod, iPhone,
the iPad. In fact, ABI Research predicts 485
million of this type of device will be sold per year. But one
small company makes Apple's gadget possible. And
its stock price has nearly unlimited room to run for early
in-the-know investors. To be one of them, and see Apple's
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The iPhone 6's Monstrous Potential in 3
originally appeared on Fool.com.
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