iPhone 5 to Mark Apple’s Biggest Device Launch - Analysis

Goldman Sachs analyst raises estimates on AAPL, predicts blockbuster iPhone refresh

Whether or not Tim Cook calls it the iPhone 5 or “the new iPhone”, Apple’s upcoming smartphone is on track to mark the company’s biggest device launch in history, according to Goldman Sachs analyst Bill Shope.

On Wednesday, Shope told investors that “The iPhone 5 launch is likely to be one of the most important smartphone product cycles we’ve seen to date.”

The analyst said there’s no chance carriers will retract their iPhone subsidies, saying “We believe this concern is overblown.”

He argued that “While some carriers will attempt to reduce the subsidy burden and tighten upgrade policies, many more will likely hold steady to capture share from the latter camp.”

“In the end, all carriers are attempting to migrate their installed bases from feature phones to data-centric smartphones, and amid this transition, we think the risk of losing market share in the iPhone sub-segment is likely to be too great to ignore,” he explained.

“On a shorter-term basis, we believe the building rhetoric for lower subsidies and tighter upgrade policies is likely to fade to a whimper, as vendors prepare their marketing strategies for the iPhone 5 refresh later this year,” he said.

Shope raised his price target on AAPL from $700 (533 Eur) to $750 (570 Eur). The analyst didn’t weigh in on a potential release date, as opinions are heavily divided between a WWDC 12 launch, and an autumn launch (like the iPhone 4S).

Shope’s reasons to believe Apple will have another product hit this year are obvious. The next iPhone simply must launch with a redesigned appearance (otherwise Apple will have three iPhone models on the market bearing identical designs).

Another reason is common sense, really. Every new iPhone attracts more and more buyers as the smartphones get better and better, and as they get more attention in the press with each passing year. Whether it’s negative reports (i.e. antennagate) or positive ones, more and more people know about the elusive Apple iPhone and everyone wants one at the end of the day.

Where do you put that the next version is said to feature a shell that feels like liquid metal in your hands.

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