Apple 2.0

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How many iPhone 5s can Apple sell in eight days?

September 10, 2012: 11:09 AM ET

Given what it means for Q4's results, surprisingly few analysts have ventured a guess

Londoners by the hundreds queued up for the iPhone 4S. Photo: The Guardian

FORTUNE -- It's now conventional wisdom on and off Wall Street that Apple (AAPL) on Wednesday will unveil a re-designed iPhone with a larger (4 inch vs. 3.5 inch) display, a taller and slightly thinner body, a faster processor, a higher-resolution camera and support for the faster 4G LTE wireless networks being rolled out by carriers in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

It's also widely believed that the new device will sell even better than last year's iPhone 4S, which topped 4 million in less than three days.

Apple hasn't said when the device will go on sale, but rumor -- and tradition -- would suggest a launch day of Friday Sept. 21, eight days before Apple closes its books on fiscal 2012.

I've been monitoring the notes to clients issued by Apple analysts since the company announced the Sept. 12 special event, and every one I've seen assumes it means a new iPhone is on its way.

Given how material the iPhone 5 would be to the company's fourth quarter results (iPhone  sales and services represented 46% of Apple's revenue in fiscal Q3 and 58% in Q2) I'm surprised more analysts haven't offered their clients a unit-sales estimate. Here's what we've seen so far:

  • Janney's Bill Choi: 7-10 million
  • Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster: 6-10 million, but his money is on 8 million
  • Topeka's Brian White: 10-12 million, including 5 to 5.5 million in the first three days
  • Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty: 8-10 million "additional iPhones"
  • Atlantic Equities' James Cordwell: 8-9 million
  • Societe Generale's Andy Perkins: He's sticking with his estimate of 13.6 million handsets for the quarter, which would put iPhone 5 sales at 0.

We've requested estimates from a couple dozen other analysts. More numbers as they come in.

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Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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