Can Apple Sell 100 Million iPhones Over The Holidays?

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Source: courtesy of Apple Inc.
Expectations for the sales of the iPhone 8 are extraordinarily high. There remain a number of questions among tech experts and Wall St. analysts who follow the company. Among them is whether the iPhone 8 launches in September or later. Even with a delayed release, the forecast for fourth quarter sales is, in some cases, close to 100 million.

The iPhone 8 sales expectations depend largely on two things. The first is that the iPhone 7 is close to its one year birthday. Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) customers anticipate these anniversaries as the time when they can buy an upgrade. iPhone releases have been a year apart in the past. The second expectations is that the iPhone 8 may be a larger leap in technology and features than any model since the iPhone 5. The iPhone 5 was lighter than earlier versions. It was much thinner. It had an upgraded camera. It was the first model design by Apple’s management after the death of Steven Jobs.

There is always tremendous speculation about new iPhone features which begin months before release. For the iPhone 8, this might include a wireless charger. It may have an curved AMOLED display which allows for more picture sharpness and better contrast. It’s “home button” may be gone. The speaker and camera may be behind the display screen. It may come in new sizes. It is impossible to predict which if any of these will wildly excite potential buyers.

Apple’s share price is near an all time high and its market cap at a record $800 billion. It cannot hold those numbers if the iPhone 8 is not a home run, both in the third calendar quarter when it will be released and more important the holiday quarter after.

Cowen & Co.’s Timothy Arcuri was quoted by Barron’s as saying that what is most important to investors is not when the iPhone 8 is released as much as whether Apple can sell 90 million iPhones in the last quarter of the year. Apple is the best performing Dow stock this year, and to hold that position of the balance of 2017, the iPhone 8 needs to eclipse expectations. For the last quarter of the year, the number needs to be 100 million.