Because everything else surrounding tomorrow’s iPhone 5 launch has already become monumental. If you ask analysts, the launch will be a smooth sail. As you know, Apple CEO Timothy Cook is widely expected to address media at the Cupertino headquarters tomorrow at 10am PT, taking the wraps off Apple’s next-generation handset: The iPhone 4S, iPhone 5 or whatever you want to call it.
It’s gonna be a career-defining presentation for Apple’s new boss, his first following the August 24 resignation of Steve Jobs. No doubt investors will be searching for signs of the reality-distortion field in Cook’s keynote address while pundits weigh in on his on-stage persona and charisma. But what about the general public and consumers outside the core base?
These folks couldn’t care less about all the brouhaha – they just wanna a brand spanking new iPhone. “Consumers view Apple products as a must-have”, says Channing Smith, co-manager of the Capital Advisors Growth Fund, which owns Apple shares. “Apple phones and products have become almost a necessity. We don’t expect them to falter.”
ChangeWave says demand for the next iPhone is off the charts. Granted, Cook might face a difficult task convincing buyers to take the plunge in the economy like this. Let’s not forget the onslaught of powerful Android smartphones offered at various price points, form factors and networks.
Despite those obstacles, analysts are upbeat about the perfect storm of factors working towards Apple’s biggest product launch yet. The iPhone brand is mature, established and still iconic. Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White is calling for long lines stemming from the pent-up demand and unprecedented media blitz. At a time of broad market decline, he writes in a Monday note to clients:
We would rather own Apple than any other tech company in the current environment.
And Janney Capital Markets analyst Bill Choi predicts 84 million iPhones in 2011 and about 107 million iPhone shipments in 2012:
Apple is well positioned to capture an enormous profit pool as mobility and content worlds converge.
Choi also expects a new iPhone with the aluminum back resembling the MacBook Air, even though our manufacturing sources saw no signs of a major redesign. A general consensus among analysts is that the launch will shatter the 1.7 million iPhone 4s sold during the launch weekend.
Macgasm.net reports that Verizon Wireless is demanding its Salt Lake City employees work “unlimited overtime” Tuesday as “it’s clear that Verizon is expecting something big to drop THAT DAY”, implying the next iPhone will be available beginning tomorrow – a stretch, to say the least.
Meanwhile, Ticonderoga Securities’ Brian White singles out five reasons why it will knock everyone off their seat, as reported by Fortune’s Philip Elmer-DeWitt:
• The stock has fallen to the point where it is trading at 9.4 times Ticonderoga’s calendar 2012 pro forma EPS estimate
• Given the pent-up demand from the delayed launch, he believes the company will shatter the record 1.7 million iPhone 4’s sold in the first three days last year
• The iPhone is now sold to a record number of carriers (228 carriers at end of June vs. 154 a year earlier) and can now operate on CDMA networks as well as GSM
• Following the precedent set by the iPad 2, Apple is likely to roll the phone out to its international carriers more aggressively than previous launches
• The booming China market is likely to play a bigger role than ever before
Of course, we’ve known China would become Apple’s jet fuel. In the June quarter, the company reported a sixfold growth in China based on revenues of $3.8 billion. In addition to China Unicom, Apple’s only carrier in the country, Apple could launch its phone on China Telecom and China Mobile, the nation’s leading wireless operators. China Telecom is said to be gearing up for a $235 million ad blitz dubbed “Dragon Plan”.
It is interesting that Apple’s shares have lost about $17 off their value in the past two weeks. Typically, the stock gains as the excitement builds up ahead of Apple’s major product events and cools off following the announcement, presenting investors with an opportunity to profit from Apple’s product launches by selling high in the pre-event phase and buy low post-event.