Cybart: New iPhone X, X+ will spur upgrades not seen since iPhone 6, 6+

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In a post to Above Avalon subscribers Wednesday, Neil Cybart showed his math.


After doing the hard work of estimating the size of Apple’s installed base of iPhones (758 million) and the number of pre-owned iPhones in use (150 million), Cybart added the two together to get a total iPhone user base of 908 million.

What does that mean for sales of the new iPhones Apple is expected to unveil in less than two weeks?

From Cybart’s “Thinking about iPhone Upgraders” ($):

The implication is that Apple has a significant number of iPhone users who are still on their first iPhone from either Apple or a third-party retailer. We are looking at upwards of 150M to 175M users when looking at those who entered the iPhone installed base in 2015 and 2016. These users have been using their iPhone for between two and three years. Considering Apple sells older iPhone models at lower prices, a portion of these users have iPhones that are between three and five years old.

As we saw with the iPad business, just because a large portion of the installed base hasn’t upgraded, that doesn’t mean that those users will rush out and buy the next release. This dynamic represents the major difficulty in forecasting iPhone upgrade trends. The overall iPhone upgrade cycle is getting longer each month. It is certainly possible that a good portion of those 150M to 175M users may hold on to their iPhone for another two or three years.

My FY2019 iPhone sales estimate assumes iPhone upgraders will represent nearly 70% of overall iPhone sales (160M out of a total 231M iPhone unit sales). This would represent a record-high percentage. I’m assuming the 2015 and 2016 bucket of iPhone users represent nearly a third of those upgraders, with the other main piece coming from the 2013 and 2014 bucket of iPhone users. (emphasis mine)

My take: If Cybart is right, and 160 million iPhone owners upgrade to new phones in the next 12 months, that’s 21% of the installed base and 18% of the total user base. Impressive, but a lot less than the 48% of iPhone owners in Gene Munster’s survey who said they intended to upgrade. See Survey: 48% of iPhone owners intend to upgrade within year