Wall St. Votes Against Big Apple (AAPL) iPhone Prediction

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A Wall St. research firm suggested that Apple (NYSE: AAPL) would sell 45 million iPhones in 2009 which would bring in $11.7 billion, according to Silicon Alley Insider. Investors don’t think so. Apple’s shares are flat today, under $144. That is well down from their 52-week high of nearly $203.

Some of the reasons given for the prediction by Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster are the upcoming introduction of a 3G version of the iPhone and expansion into new foreign markets.

There are slightly more than one billion handsets sold worldwide. Nokia (NYSE: NOK) has 40% of the market. Samsung and Motorola (NYSE: MOT) each have about 12% and Sony Ericsson has roughly 10%.As large markets like the US and Europe hit saturation levels, overall growth of the market is slowing.

The single biggest hurdle to Apple hitting its number is the extent to which the competition is putting handhelds which compete with the iPhone into the market. LG has recently launched its LH2300 Touch Web device. Nokia has introduced its new S90 smartphone and news reports say it is designing handsets with the goal of picking up market share in the high end of the US where is has not done well.

Research In Motion (RIMM) is also moving into the "iPhone" segment. Computer World recently called the RIM 9000 a "cheap knock-off" of the iPhone. RIM will sell some of these, but the figure may be modest.

Unlike the digital media player market which the iPod entered in 2001, the handset market is much more mature and has many more well-funded global companies anxious to defend their forts.

The iPhone may do well, but Wall St. is not convinced it will be the kind of financial contributor to the company that the iPod has been

Douglas A. McIntyre