Can Apple Sell 240 Million iPhone 8 Units?

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Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) shares have been hit by a wave of selling, which has dragged the stock well below its all-time high. At the core of the sell-off is concern over how well the iPhone 8 will do. The consensus estimate among Wall Street analysts is 240 million units sold in Apple’s 2018 fiscal year, which begins in September.

The four primary cases for sales of 240 million iPhone 8 units in its next fiscal are that:

  1. The first year of an upgrade cycle always has lifted iPhone sales.
  2. Holiday sales of iPhones represent the largest bump in sales, and the iPhone 8 will have just been introduced.
  3. No competitor, particularly Samsung, will have released a highly competitive smartphone.
  4. And the new iPhone will be a major upgrade in features compared to the iPhone 7 family.

Apple can count on the upgrade cycle as a major contributor to the iPhone’s success. This is based on a history of upgrade sales over the phone’s first release in 2007. The iconic images of lines of thousands of people waiting to get the next version have become symbolic of the iPhone’s success.

Holiday sales of iPhones can be 50% higher than in other quarters. They depend to some extent on the overall economy. Consumers who feel poor will be more conservative about how to spend their holiday money. The new iPhone 8 will be expensive, and perhaps too expensive if consumers feel stretched.

Samsung’s iPhone killer for this year is the Galaxy S8. While its sales appear to be strong, there is no evidence that the smartphone has been a smashing success. The phone is sold in a package with the Samsung Gear 360 camera, which is a novel product. It is too early to tell whether the bundling of the two products will help overall sales.

Finally, the greatest debate about the new iPhone 8 is whether it will really be very new. The press has published speculations, partial facts, photos and drawings of the phone. Some of them may be accurate, but consumers and investors will need to wait for the release to see if the iPhone 8 is a quantum leap forward.

Can Apple sell 240 million units of the iPhone 8 in fiscal year 2018? Maybe. And maybe not.