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iPhone 6S may lack killer feature to drive sales, says analyst

Apple's iPhone 6S may not offer the necessary features to draw in enough buyers to boost fourth-quarter sales, according to the crystal ball of KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

Could iPhone sales take a dip in the fourth quarter? CNET

Little interest in the next iPhone's purported Force Touch feature combined with weak demand in China could sink iPhone sales in the fourth quarter, says analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

Reportedly slated for the iPhone 6S, Force Touch makes the screen pressure-sensitive so it responds to how you press on the surface and is already in use on the the MacBook and Apple Watch. But Force Touch has failed to generate much excitement among MacBook and Apple Watch owners, Kuo said in an investors note picked up on Tuesday by Taiwanese news site Apple Daily. So Force Touch may not be " the most significant change to the iPhone's interface to date" that the analyst claimed it would be in an April report, according to Kuo's latest opinion.

Expected to be released in September, the next iPhone comes in an "off-year" for Apple. That means the new handset will likely offer a few enhancements and one significant new feature. But this year's phone won't be considered a major upgrade as was last year's big-screened iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. If Force Touch doesn't prove to be a killer feature for the new iPhone, existing iPhone users may see little reason to upgrade. That could push overall iPhone sales down in the fourth quarter, according to Kuo.

Another factor that Kuo believes will hurt fourth-quarter iPhone sales is China. Still the world's largest smartphone market, China is seeing weaker demand for mobile phones as the market has become more saturated. Apple has been hit by the downturn, losing its spot as the No. 1 smartphone seller in China and now in third place behind local vendors Xiaomi and Huawei, according to research firm Canalys. Even Apple CEO Tim Cook has acknowledged that China could see some "speed bumps" because of economic woes.

With no real killer feature for the new iPhone and sluggish demand in China, Kuo said that iPhone sales in the fourth quarter could fall to between 65 million and 75 million. If that forecast isn't on the higher side, then sales would actually drop below the record 74.5 million iPhones reported in the same quarter in 2014. That would mark the first time that quarterly iPhone sales dropped on a year-to-year basis.

Nothing definitive is known about the next iPhone at this point . Apple is expected to stick with the same screen sizes introduced last year -- one iPhone with a 4.8-inch screen and a larger edition with a 5.5-inch display. Kuo has suggested that the new phones will be powered by the Samsung-produced A9 processor, the successor to the current A8 chip. Combine that with 2GB of RAM, and the next iPhones would offer a hefty bump in power and speed over the iPhone 6.

Apple will hold a launch event on September 9 in which it's expected to unveil its new iPhone lineup.

(Via AppleInsider and MacRumors)