The iPhone 6 may not appear until September is almost over. At least, that's the latest prognostication from Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster.
Following Apple's usual pattern, the next iPhone is almost certain to be announced and then roll out to consumers sometime in September. When exactly in September that will happen is still a mystery. The earlier in the month that Apple can launch the iPhone 6, the higher the percentage of iPhone sales that the company can apply to its September quarter financial results. But an early release may not happen, according to an investors note released by Munster on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Apple reported healthy fiscal third-quarter (calendar second quarter) profits of $7.75 billion. But revenue was lower than analysts had anticipated. Further, iPhone sales clocked in at 35.2 million units, not quite hitting the average analyst forecast of 35.9 million units. Apple also said it expects revenue for the current quarter to range from $37 billion to $40 billion, slightly less than the $40.44 billion projected by analysts.
So given all that, why does Munster now believe the iPhone will arrive later to the party in September? Well, it's a bit complicated, but here goes...
Given Apple's revenue projections for the current quarter, Munster sees sales of 38 million iPhones from July through September. But assuming a late September launch for the iPhone 6, the analyst has pushed back a total of 16 million new iPhone 6 units from his prior estimate for an earlier launch. That assumes year-over-year iPhone unit growth of 9 percent, not taking into account any new models.
"We reach 16 million iPhone 6 units by assuming that Apple launches both a 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 leading to a 14 million unit 3-day launch weekend (up 55 percent year-over-year vs 9 million for the iPhone 5S/5C launch)," Munster said. "For the launch weekend, we note the average y/y launch weekend growth for the past 5 iPhone launches averaged 62 percent, and the last two body-style upgrades averaged 48 percent y/y growth. We assume Apple sells another 2 million units in the remaining 2 days in the September quarter for a total of 16 million iPhone 6 units."
Got all that? Whatever factors fit into Munster's forecast, a later iPhone launch means fewer units sold would be applied to the September quarter, which could partly explain why Apple believes the overall revenues will be lower this quarter than analysts had anticipated.
In another investors note released late Tuesday, Munster came up with a specific release date for the next-generation iPhone.
"We believe the guide suggests a launch on the last Friday of September (9/26) vs. our prior thinking of a 9/19 launch," the analyst forecast. "This means Apple will only benefit from 5 days of iPhone 6 sales vs. 12 in our prior expectation."
Munster also said he believes the much-rumored 5.5-inch iPhone will cannibalize sales of the iPad Mini. But Apple may not mind. Even if the larger-screened phone cannibalizes as many as 4 million iPad Mini units, Apple would still see an additional $1.2 billion in overall sales, according to the analyst.
Finally, Munster does expect Apple to introduce an iWatch and a possible mobile payments platform. But he concedes that his expectations for an Apple television set are waning and now sees it as more of a long-term product.