23% of Owners Say They Plan to Upgrade to New Apple iPhone in the Fall

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Whether you refer to it as the iPhone 8 or the iPhone X, there’s little doubt that speculation about the new iPhone due from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) later this year has given the company’s share price a boost. Apple claims the best performing stock among the 30 components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average for the year to date with a gain of just over 20%, as of last Friday’s close.

In a report posted Monday morning, Loup Ventures analyst Gene Munster revealed the results of a survey of 205 U.S. consumers related to their interest in buying what Munster calls the iPhone X.

Among 234 current iPhone owners swept up in the survey, 23% intend to upgrade to the new iPhone. That’s an improvement of almost 50% from the 15% of iPhone owners who said they intended to upgrade to the iPhone 7 when it was released last fall.

One difference between the two surveys is the time of year when they were taken. Munster explains:

We conducted our most recent survey roughly six months ahead of the iPhone X release. Last year, the survey was done two months ahead of the iPhone 7 release. As we get closer to launch, the rumor mill can positively or negatively impact excitement about buying. If the rumors live up to the early hype, interest will likely increase; if they don’t, interest may decrease.

Munster also cites the popularity of Apple’s upgrade program for the “meaningfully higher” upgrade interest to a new iPhone X.

Rumored augmented reality (AR) features for the new iPhone score well among those who say they plan to upgrade, with 26% saying they are interested in the AR features. Among those who don’t plan to purchase the new iPhone, just 16% say they are interested in the AR features.

Interest in AR is highest among millennials (34%) and men (29%, compared to 23% of women).

At the end of the fourth quarter — the first full quarter of availability for the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus — 72% of Apple’s U.S. sales were down to the 7 and 7 Plus. That indicates to us, at least, that the 23% upgrade figure that Loup Ventures projects at this point is a very solid estimate. Apple sold 78.3 million iPhones in the December quarter.

Apple shares traded down about 0.1% in the noon hour Monday, at $139.03 in a 52-week range of $89.47 to $140.28. The 12-month consensus price target is $142.69.