Apple's Q2 2012 iPhone sales dip: Can the iPad 3 save the day?

Summary:Apple is expected to announce that iPhone sales during Q2 2012 decreased slightly from the previous quarter. But can the iPad 3 save the day?

With Apple's earnings less than a fortnight away, a report in Fortune suggests Apple may have sold between 26--44 million iPhones in the past quarter, which ended two weeks ago.

While the Cupertino-based company will likely shed more light on the figures on April 24, analysts polled suggests a middle ground of around 35.1 million devices --- a decrease from the previous quarter.

That said, it marks more than 85 percent increase year-on-year for the company, even if Samsung continues to dominate the mobile OEM space quarter-by-quarter.

But with the last quarter doing so well with the release of the iPhone 4S, along with distracted attention towards the iPad 3, it seems logical that Apple could find a dip in numbers, and therefore a crucial dip in iPhone revenue.

Apple said in February that it sold more than 37 million iPhones in Q1 2012, a cumulative total of 175 million to date. In the 2011 fiscal year, the numbers levelled out and appeared to stagnate and only grew marginally in the face of a wave of Android devices hitting the market. Last October, the figures jumped by nearly double from 17.07 million in Q4 2011 to 37.04 million smartphones sold in Q1 2012 with the launch of the iPhone 4S.

It should come as no surprise that OS X 10.8 "Mountain Lion" should therefore become more like its iPhone and iPad counterpart in functionality and feature set to increase its popularity amongst users --- the so-called "iOS-ification" of the desktop operating system --- as Apple sold more iOS devices in 2011 than it sold Macs in nearly three decades.

While Apple is expected to generate around half of its revenue from the iPhone, the iPad 3 may well pick up the numbers should declining iPhone sales cause a dip in revenue. In theory, the numbers balance each other out. But it's more likely that more people are still buying the entry-level 16GB iPhone at $199 on contracts rather than going all-out on an unlocked device, costing consumers a greater price tag of $649.

Compare this to the iPad 3, however, its entry level tablet at $499 could generate more revenue per device than the entry-level iPhone does. Plus, while its predecessor the iPhone 4, and the now ageing iPhone 3GS remains on sale, Apple is taking to increase the surface area its smartphone has by having three vastly different iPhones on sale.

Crucially, for Apple, iPad figures are the logical ones to watch during the April 24 earnings.

It's likely that iPhone sales will remain either around the same as the last quarter if not dipping slightly in the wake of the iPad 3's arrival, but Apple could simply shift its focus from the iPhone being the critical figure to its earnings report and claim instead that iOS as a platform is what keeps the company in business.

Image source: Wikipedia.

Related:

Topics: Apple, Collaboration, Hardware, iPhone, Mobile OS, Mobility, Smartphones

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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