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Apple could sell 250 million iPhone 5s, analyst says

The analyst claims that the massive figure could be reached with help from China Mobile, a massive carrier Apple has been trying to woo for years.

How well will the iPhone 5 do?
How well will the iPhone 5 do?

The iPhone 5 could be an unprecedented hit for Apple, according to one analyst.

In a research note to investors last week, FBR Capital Markets analyst Craig Berger wrote that Apple could sell a whopping 250 million iPhone 5 units over the device's lifespan. The device could also drive $50 in earnings per share, or a $47 billion profit, during its lifecycle, "representing one of the largest single product opportunities in Apple's history."

All Things Digital was first to report on the note.

If Apple were to sell 250 million iPhone 5 units, it would mark a dramatic uptick in total sales for its iOS-based devices. At the Worldwide Developers Conference in June, Apple announced that it had sold a cumulative 365 million iOS devices at the end of March.

How, then, could Apple's iPhone 5 be so successful? Berger says that the device's expected improvements, including a larger display, better processor, and maybe even near-field communication, will help drive strong sales. In addition, he believes that Apple will be able to launch the iPhone 5 on China Mobile's service early next year.

"If China Mobile launches the iPhone in early 2013, we anticipate that Apple could generate 13 million units sold [to China Mobile customers] in the first half of 2013," Berger wrote.

Apple has reportedly been working on bringing China Mobile into the iPhone mix for a long time. China Mobile is the world's largest mobile carrier with 688 million subscribers. And although just a small portion of those are smartphone owners, it's a huge opportunity for Apple.

But before any of that can happen, Apple needs to actually announce the iPhone 5. According to reports, Apple will announce the device next month and launch it soon after. However, the iPhone maker hasn't yet confirmed that this is the case.