Apple's iPhone 7 leads to buying pause, says analyst

Consumers have pulled back on buying the iPhone as they wait for Apple's iPhone 7 launch in the fall. What's unclear is how the replacement cycle will play out in the future.

The great buying pause ahead of Apple's iPhone 7 launch is on, according to Canaccord Genuity. That reality means that Apple will continue to see sales fall until the iPhone 7 replacement cycle gets the company back to the 230 million units sold in 2015.

T. Michael Walkley, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity, said in a research note:

Based on our survey work, we believe consumers continue to delay purchases of new iPhones ahead of the iPhone 7 launch likely in September. In fact, we believe iPhone sales in the US market will fall below 50% of total smartphone sales during the June quarter for the first time since the larger screen iPhone 6 products launched. While we anticipate a decreasing replacement rate through September as consumers delay upgrading their iPhones ahead of the anticipated iPhone 7 launch, we do anticipate recovering sales with the iPhone 7. Longer term, we believe the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s products have enabled Apple to materially increase its share and installed base of the premium tier smartphone market with Android users switching to the iPhone.

The big question is whether the iPhone 7 will entice the iPhone 6 customer base to upgrade. Walkley said that the iPhone customer base tops 500 million and replacement sales will occur at a timeline to be determined.

Why Apple's R&D spending surge may not result in one more thing

Walkley also noted that Apple long-term future is selling services to its installed base. As noted last week, Apple is on an innovation treadmill, but its best asset is its customer base on its platform. "Despite our stable iPhone sales expectations in the 200M to 250M range annually, we believe the growing, loyal, and sticky iPhone installed base provides Apple with long-term opportunities to drive further topline growth through additional products, services, and software sales," he said.

Here's a look at Walkley's replacement cycle estimates ahead of the iPhone 7.

iphone-replacement-cycle-ahead-of-iphone-7.jpg