almanis market: Will Apple record a year-on-year increase in the number of iPhones sold for any quarter of 2016?

almanis market: Will the next Apple iPhone (or set of iPhones) set a new opening weekend sales record?

On 27th January, during a quarterly conference call with investors, Apple CEO Tim Cook warned that iPhone sales were about to see their first ever year-on-year decline in unit sales. On 26th April, Apple confirmed that sales of its flagship product had indeed fallen by 10m units (or 16.3%) in first quarter of 2016 compared to the same quarter in 2015.

This presented a worrying trend for the world’s largest listed company, particularly coming just days after China announced it was banning Apple’s iTunes and iBooks services, and we have been asking the almanis crowd to forecast whether or not it might continue.

Specifically, we’re asking whether or not Apple might manage to record positive year-on-year iPhone sales for any quarter in 2016 and whether or not the new iPhone 7, expected to be released in September, might manage to beat Apple’s opening weekend sales record, as each of the eight previous new models launches have.

Looking into the numbers, these two questions seem to be more directly linked than they initially appear and it all has to do with the release of the iPhone 6 and 6S models in September 2014. The launch of these models, described by Apple at the time as “the biggest advancements in iPhone history”, smashed all records and significantly exceeded the company’s own expectations. The scale of the surge is illustrated in the chart below.


Now most people who purchase an iPhone do so through a two-year network contract. It follows that a very large percentage of those 74.5m consumers who bought an iPhone in the three months following the release of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus back in September 2014 will be out looking for an upgrade just as the iPhone 7 hits the shops. Relatively few are likely have been tempted to upgrade a year earlier in September 2015 for the relatively modest improvements offered by the iPhone 6S.

So we it seems reasonable to expect a surge in sales for the fourth quarter of this year, one that could easily eclipse the fourth quarter of 2015. As for another record opening weekend, if the 6S model could manage it last year (and not by a small margin – 13m vs. 10m) then there’s little reason to suggest it can’t be repeated. Remember, the number of people in the world with a smart phone and, more specifically, an Apple smart phone continues to rise so records should keep being broken.


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