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Apple expected to sell 250 million iPhone 5 units

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Apple is said to expect the next generation of the iPhone to sell more than 250 million units, easily making it among the most successful handsets in history.

Giving evidence under oath last week in Apple's high profile patents trial with rival Samsung, Apple's marketing chief Phil Schiller gave a rare statement on Apple's sales projections.

Asymco estimated iPhone sales graph

© Asymco



Discussing future iPhone sales, he said: "Each new generation [of the smartphone] sold approximately equal to all previous generations combined."

Data tracking firm Asymco calculated that if Schiller's prediction proves correct, then Apple expects to shift more than 250 million of the new iPhone after it is launched as expected this autumn.

Looking back at previous iPhone generations, Asycmo found that the iPhone 3G outsold the original iPhone by almost four times, and then it was beaten by the iPhone 3GS by a factor of 1.6.

The iPhone 4 - Apple's biggest redesign of the handset since it launched in 2007 - easily beat the original, 3G and 3GS handsets in its combined sales.

Released last year, the iPhone 4S is said to be "only half way" through beating its four predecessors, but Asycmo believes that it has the potential to shift around 162m handsets, as long as it remains in production for at least one year.

Asymco estimated iPhone sales graph

© Asymco



In a blog post, Asycmo said that total of sales for the "iPhone 5" (which is actually the sixth generation of the product) could be "greater than 263 million units".

This figure is quite staggering, particularly considering the more bullish sales estimates for the Samsung Galaxy S3 - considered the new iPhone's greatest challenger - are around 50m units in the first six months of sales.

Asymco admits that it is estimating on a "moving target" as the iPhone 4S is still selling well and Apple has not even announced its new handset yet.

However, the firm believes that Apple will shift 200 million iPhones over the next 12 months and it is expected that 85% of those will be "next generation", suggesting that 170m iPhone 5s will be shifted through to mid 2013.

Asymco estimated iPhone sales graph

© Asymco



"This is well short of a target of 265 million. But that's only over the next four quarters," Asymco said.

"If the iPhone 5 remains in production for at least as long as the 3GS then it might cross 200 million. There is also the question of whether the 'mix' will begin to favour the older generations more. If that's the case, we might see version 5 meet its target.

"Underlying all this is the question of a change in strategy toward more penetration (vs. current skimming.) That might allow for sustaining the 100% historic growth rate. If so then Apple will easily sell 250 million iPhone 5s."

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