The iPhone ante is being raised by the minute for Apple. The question now shifts from whether Apple will ship 10 million iPhones by the end of 2008 to by how much it'll blow away its own target.
- Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, one of the more bullish iPhone fans out there, is predicting 12.9 million iPhones by the end of 2008.
- Oppenheimer analyst Yair Reiner is predicting 14.5 million iPhone units in 2008.
- Apple's official estimate 10 million and the company has stuck by that projection each quarter.
Add it up and it's safe to say analysts think that Apple is bluffing.
Can Apple deliver? You bet, but it won't be because of a shiny new iPhone. Apple is expected to deliver a 3G version of its iPhone (all resources), but the real impact of that rollout won't be seen until the September quarter. While speculation about the next iPhone abounds with folks circulating tips, rumors and even customs data on imports, a 3G phone isn't the reason why Apple will blow past its 10 million iPhone target.
Also see: Jason O'Grady's iPhone coverageThe real reason: International distribution. Apple in just a few weeks has acquired a global footprint for the iPhone. It lacks a deal with China Mobile, but the available subscriber base globally has swelled. And with Apple shipping 5.4 million iPhones so far all the company has to do is skim a few global customers via these carriers in the December quarter to hit its target.
On Tuesday, TeliSonera, a wireless carrier, said it will offer the iPhone in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia later this year.
That latest deal only adds to the following list of global heavyweights (chart courtesy of Merrill Lynch).
Within a few short weeks Apple has 32.6 percent of the total addressable global market. Simply put, Apple doesn't have to do a whole lot to surpass its 10 million unit target. Reiner notes:
We believe current consensus estimates for the iPhone are far too timid in assessing the significance of the iPhone's expanding international channel. Early evidence suggests that the iPhone is approximately a third as popular in the international markets where it is already available as it is at AT&T-enjoying roughly the same relative popularity as Apple's computer do outside of the U.S. Our above consensus target of 14.5 million iPhones in 2008 assumes that this relatively popularity will merely be sustained as the iPhone becomes available to 480 million new international subscribers in 2H08.
And if Apple does hook up with China Mobile perhaps even Munster's wild projection of 45 million iPhone in 2009 is in reach.
- iPhone’s international rollout continues; 10 million units not a stretch
- The anatomy of an iPhone user (and why they want new form factors)