Could Apple sell 45 million iPhones a year?

Today the web is alight with speculation as to how Apple will sell 45 million iPhones in 2009. The catalyst for this speculation is Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster who continues to stand by a prediction made in June 2007 (weeks before the iPhone went on sale) that by 2009 Apple will be shifting iPhones at a rate of 45 million a year.Could Apple hit these stratospheric numbers?

Today the web is alight with speculation as to how Apple will sell 45 million iPhones in 2009.  The catalyst for this speculation is Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster who continues to stand by a prediction made in June 2007 (weeks before the iPhone went on sale) that by 2009 Apple will be shifting iPhones at a rate of 45 million a year.

iPhone
How could Apple achieve these stratospheric targets?  Munster offers the following roadmap:

  • Release a 3G iPhone in 3 - 6 months
  • Expand the iPhone range to include two or three models, including a lower-priced model
  • Keep entering new countries
  • Adding new features

Even compared to iPod sales, 45 million iPhones a year is an ambitious target

45 million is a big number no matter how you cut it.  Even compared to iPod sales, 45 million iPhones a year is an ambitious target.  Last year Apple sold around 50 million iPods. 

To me the 45 a million a year by 2009 figure comes across as wildly speculative, especially given that we know that by Q1 this year Apple had sold fewer than 4 million iPhones.  Not only that but this sort of wild speculation could be highly damaging to Apple in the long run, especially as people start taking these numbers as coming from Apple rather than an analyst.

Note:  Munster's predictions tend to be all over the map.  MacRumors has a list of some.  Other predictions, such as the ultraportable prediction, were dismissed as dumb predictions but the MacBook Air proved his predictions to be pretty close to the mark.

But let's assume that Apple is eager to ramp up iPhone sales.  What could the company do to make the iPhone more attractive to a wider audience?

  • Price drop
  • Expand network offering/sell unlocked iPhones
  • 3G
  • Better battery/user replaceable battery
  • Better camera
  • 32GB storage
  • Expandable storage via SD Card slot
  • USB mass storage device (MSD) compatibility
  • Voice recording
  • MMS messaging
  • Chat software
  • GPS

For me, the main change that would need to happen before I picked up an iPhone would be a better battery or, preferably, a user-replaceable battery (yeah, I know, the chances to that happening are almost zero).  Over the past few months I've been using my iPod touch a lot, not just as an iPod but as a web browser and email tool, and what I've noticed is that battery life has taken a shocking hit.  I don't have proper figures yet but I used to get 2.5 hours of web browsing and maybe 1.5 - 2 hours of YouTube usage out of a single charge, and now that could be down to as little as 1.5 hours of web browsing.  It also seems to discharge when it's switched off.  I can do without that kind of liability when it comes to my cellphone.

Thoughts?  Ideas?

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