Will a larger iPhone steal sales from the iPad Mini?

Possibly, but the overall effect might be neutral, says analyst Gene Munster, as some Phone 6 buyers could opt for an iPad Air instead of a Mini.

iPad Mini with Retina Display
Apple's iPad Mini with Retina Sarah Tew / CBS Interactive

How would Apple's iPad Mini fare in a world with not just one, but two, bigger-screen iPhones?

Apple is expected to bump up the screen size on its next iPhone. Recent rumors even claim the company will unveil two new models later this year -- one with a 4.7-inch screen, the other with a 5.5-inch screen. Assuming this prediction proves true, a certain amount of cannibalization of the Mini is likely. But Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster sees the overall effect on Apple as neutral.

In some cases, consumers might update to the iPhone 6 to score the bigger screen instead of keeping an older phone and buying an iPad Mini, Munster suggested in an investors note released Monday. In other cases, iPhone 6 buyers who want a second device might simply choose an iPad Air instead of a Mini.

Cannibalization concerns were also tossed around when Apple introduced the first iPad Mini in 2012. Apple watchers wondered if the new Mini model would steal sales away from its bigger sibling. In some ways, the point is moot. As long as overall demand and revenues stay strong, Apple benefits no matter which product is luring in the customers.

Apple announces its fiscal second-quarter results this Wednesday. Munster predicts that earnings will reach the higher end of Apple's own guidance with revenues close to $44 billion, iPhone unit sales of 38.5 million, and iPad unit sales of 21 million.

But the analyst doesn't have high expectations for the current quarter. Munster predicts only a 5 percent increase in Apple revenues this quarter over the same quarter last year. Wall Street in general is eyeing an 8 percent gain.

"We continue to believe that June numbers are too high given our expectation that there will be no new products in the quarter," Munster said. "We note that given the company's history with guidance, the high-end of Apple's guide is all that matters and we expect the company's high-end of guidance to imply no more than 5 percent [year-over-year] revenue growth."

And how big an impact will China Mobile have on Apple's iPhone results?

Last December, Apple finally cut a deal with China's largest carrier to offer the iPhone starting in January. Based on subscriber data from China Mobile, Munster estimates the carrier sold around 1 million iPhones during the first quarter of availability. But he expects the biggest year-over-year impact from the China Mobile deal to occur after the iPhone 6 arrives.

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.


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