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2012 Looking Copacetic for iPhone, iPad Sales

2012 Looking Copacetic for iPhone, iPad Sales

Apple's iPhone and iPad will be seeing increased competition in the coming year, but it's not likely to rain on the company's parade. Analyst forecasts for sales of the devices appear to run the gamut from excellent to stupendous. The latest -- and perhaps most bullish -- assessment came from Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty, who told clients that iPhone sales could hit the 190 million mark next year.

By Rob Spiegel MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
12/16/11 5:00 AM PT

Morgan Stanley is decidedly bullish about Apple's near future. It will sell more iPhones and iPads than expected over the next few quarters, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty told clients in a research note that has been widely reported in the press. Her findings were based on the results of an AlphaWise survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers over the age of 18, conducted the week after Thanksgiving.

Shipments of the iPhone may reach 36 million this quarter, Huberty said, rather than the 30 million she forecast earlier, with unit sales for the year soaring to an estimated 190 million.

Strong sales of the iPad are also expected. Twenty-seven percent of survey respondents said they intended to buy an iPad next year, she noted, while only 8 percent already owned one. That suggests up to 63 million purchases, compared with the 26.5 million iPads that have been sold in the six quarters it's been available.

Amazon's Kindle Fire is not a significant threat to the iPad, in Huberty's view -- it's sales have shaved a mere 4 points off Apple's take.

If Apple were to cut its iPad price by US$100, it could expect to sell 15 million more iPads, she ventured.

Huberty did not respond to our request to comment for this story.

Increased Competition

Not all sales projections for the iPhone and the iPad are as optimistic as Morgan Stanley's.

"My forecasts for Apple are a bit lower than these, but Apple has always shown that it has the ability to surprise," Allen Nogee, principal analyst for wireless technology Visit the VMware Tech Center at In-Stat, told MacNewsWorld.

Apple will be facing more competition going forward, Nogee pointed out.

"We have Microsoft Phone kicking in, Bada from Samsung, and a few others, but I think Apple, with its one-smartphone-at-a-time philosophy, can keep up with the best of them," said Nogee.

Where Apple lags is in the lower end of the market, a segment that remains very vibrant, he observed. "The low-cost area, [with] smartphones costing $150 or less without subsidies ... will be one of the fastest-growing segments going forward, and Apple doesn't compete there yet."

Lower Expectations

Far more conservative than Morgan Stanley's estimates are ABI Research's projections. "We're seeing a potential 25 million for this quarter," Michael Morgan, senior analyst, mobile devices, told MacNewsWorld. "For 2012, we're seeing 120 million. That's still a sizable gain."

Although ABI's projections are lower than Morgan Stanley's, "they did a good job on their research, and I know why their numbers are high," said Morgan. "They used a survey of intents to buy. If you use intents to buy, you could come up with that number."

However, everyone who intends to buy doesn't actually buy, he emphasized. "The laws of economics still apply, even to Apple. Half to 75 percent of intents actually follow through."

It's doubtful that RIM's new phones will put much of a dent in Apple, said Morgan, although they're still a big unknown.

"RIM has officially become the dark horse," he said. "They're developing their own platform and it looks better than its old platform. They're hooking onto the Android ecosystem with one-click porting. That means they won't have to develop their own ecosystem."

Still, the really competitive pushback against apple will come from Samsung, in Morgan's view.

Par for Apple's Course

Generally speaking, the Morgan Stanley numbers -- even thought they are large -- are not getting criticized on the analyst beat.

"Nothing is actually surprising here," Steven Savage, technology project manager and Geek 2.0 blogger, told MacNewsWorld. "Apple has a good reputation -- the iPhone has expanded to more outlets and networks."

There is little that could substantially change this outlook, maintained Savage.

"Apple has a lot of established market share and mind share," he said. "It'd take a huge shakeup to make people stop thinking about Apple -- and Apple doesn't do huge shakeups."

New tablets could possibly affect the outlook, he conceded.

"The Kindle Fire is certainly a player, though initial reviews are mixed," said Savage. "I don't see any new phones challenging Apple. I'm not betting on RIM at all."


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