So we all know that the COVID-19 has had an impact on Apple, especially when it comes to the production and sales of its number one product the iPhone. Coronavirus staged a two-prong attack on Apple's iconic smartphone as it forced the company's manufacturing partners and supply chain to shut down their assembly lines. Apple also limited demand for its phones by first closing all 42 Apple Stores in China. And then when it reopened these stores earlier this week, Apple closed all of its other brick and mortar locations around the world. Production has been slowly ramping back up, but it might be hard to find a 2019 iPhone in the exact configuration and color you want.
The coronavirus outbreak could force Apple to delay the unveiling and release of its 2020 5G iPhone models
According to Seeking Alpha, T. Michael Walkley, an analyst with Canaccord Genuity, has reduced his estimate of 2020 iPhone sales from 202 million to 168 million. That is a reduction of 34 million handsets or a 16.8% drop. Walkley also reduced his 2021 estimates and now expects 183 million iPhones to be rung up next year. That is a 35 million unit or 16% cut.Trying to compute exactly how many iPhones Apple will sell during a quarter is difficult during good times so you can imagine how tough a task it is now. But that hasn't stopped those who work for Wall Street securities firms from trying.
Other analysts have also been forced to reduce their estimates because of the coronavirus. Yesterday, we told you that Wedbush Securities, home to Apple Superbull Daniel Ives, released its worst-case scenario under which Apple is unable to launch its 5G iPhone models this year because of coronavirus-related issues with the supply-chain. Earlier this month, Ives called for a new iPhone "supercycle" that would run for 12 to 18 months after the release of the 2020 models this fall. The predication, predicated on the idea that all of the new units will support 5G, noted that 350 million out of the 925 million active iPhone users are "in a window of an upgrade opportunity."
Ives' previously indicated that Apple could sell 200 million to 215 million iPhone units during fiscal year 2021 (which starts this October). Apple iPhone sales peaked in 2015 when 231 million handsets were sold. Ives also said in the earlier report that COVID-19 might push back possible demand for the iPhone, not cancel it permanently. Reliable TF International analyst Ming-Chi Kuo cut his forecast of iPhone sales during the current calendar first quarter by 10% to a range of 36-40 million units because of the rapidly spreading disease.
What makes this such a bitter pill to swallow for Apple and its investors is that two separate launches were supposed to generate strong iPhone demand this year. First, Apple was originally expected to unveil its entry-level iPhone 9 (and possibly a larger iPhone 9 Plus) at the end of this month. With a design that copies the looks of the iPhone 8 (and possibly iPhone 8 Plus), these phones should be powered by the same A13 Bionic chipset found in the 2019 iPhone models. The iPhone 9 will also get a 50% hike in memory to 3GB and should be priced at $399 for the 64GB model. Kuo originally expected 30 million to 40 million of these phones to be sold this year but reduced that estimate to a range of 20 million to 30 million.
And Apple's annual launch of its new flagship iPhone models would, under normal circumstances, created big sales numbers for Apple. That's because the manufacturer is rumored to release four new phones (iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Plus, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max), each one offering 5G support. In addition, all four models are supposedly the beneficiaries of a redesign. Apple might be forced to push back the unveiling and release date of these models by one month or more according to some analysts.