Consumer Electronics

Did Apple Sell 70 Million iPhones?

Douglas A. McIntyre

As Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) announces sales for the holiday quarter, investors will look to revenue from its burgeoning services business. It is, most experts believe, the future of the company. However, the iPhone, critical to Apple’s success for so long, may post surprising strength and drive the sharply rising stock even higher.

iPhone sales reached an extraordinary level of 78 million in the holiday quarter of 2016. Sales have run below that since then, sometimes much below. Analysts believe that new iPhones have not been enough of an upgrade from their predecessors over the past three years. The upgrade cycle slowed. However, it may have picked up again.

The iPhone 11 has sold briskly, according to nearly every estimate of its unit sales. The holiday quarter was the first when the iPhone 11 was available for an entire quarter. The iPhone 11’s camera, speedy processor, video capture and battery life appear to be different enough from earlier iPhones that the “replacement cycle” may have sped up. It will need to have surged for Apple stock to move higher than the 100% rise that it has posted over the past year.

If iPhone sales did indeed hit record levels, investors will begin to look to the iPhone 12. It should be released this fall. There are rumors that there will be six versions. That means it will be available at enough price points that people who want an “affordable” version can buy an iPhone 12. A fully featured model will sell for well over $1,000. Apple sales have shown in the past that there is a model for iPhones this expensive.

Apple’s services business, which includes the highly visible Apple TV+, may still be the primary catalyst for Apple’s future. However, if iPhone sales reached 70 million for the holiday quarter, services may take a back seat for a while.