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Piper Jaffray: iPhone 3GS upgrade stampede ahead

updated 12:30 am EDT, Wed October 12, 2011

Munster estimates 18.8 million will move to 4S

Analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray believes a cavalcade of current iPhone 3GS users, who skipped the iPhone 4 for a variety of reasons, will move to the iPhone 4S by the millions over the next year, accounting for up to 18 percent of Apple's iPhone sales, AppleInsider reports. Munster believes that 18.8 million 3GS users, based on an estimated 27.6M total iPhone 3GS sales, are still available for upgrading and will likely take advantage of the new model.

The estimate, which does not include buyers of any earlier models, presumes that 20 percent of iPhone 3GS buyers have already upgraded to the iPhone 4, and that 15 percent of 3GS owners have or will migrate to other platforms (generally assumed to mean Android). The latter contention is a great odds with Munster's own informal survey -- conducted among 216 mobile phone users in August -- that showed a 94 percent retention rate among current iPhone users (meaning they planned to upgrade to another iPhone model when the time came) compared with a 47 percent retention rate for Android users (another 42 percent said they planned on switching to the iPhone).

Thus, the actual pool of older iPhone owners ready to upgrade could be significantly higher, a possibility Munster acknowledges by calling his own estimates "conservative." It is also possible that a higher percentage of iPhone 3GS users have already upgraded to the iPhone 4, potentially reducing the "upgrader" market in Munster's estimates.

Piper Jaffray is generally bullish on the new iPhone model, predicting that 25 million overall will be sold before the end of the year (though Munster now says Apple may even surpass that figure, based on strong pre-orders). In total, Munster believes Apple will ship over 104 million iPhones (a combined total of all three models now available) in fiscal 2012, which began for Apple on October 1st. If his prediction bears out, it would represent a 35 percent increase over FY 2011 totals, but less than the 90 percent year-over-year increases Apple saw in 2010 and 2009.

Piper Jaffray currently ranks Apple stock as "overweight" and maintains a target price of $607. [via AppleInsider]

by MacNN Staff



  1. Raman

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I don't think so..

    Us 3 gs owners were dissapointed when the awesome 4 came out soon after the 3GS & we couldn't upgrade easily to the 4. We waited and waited for the 5. It never came. Our contracts expired. I can wait a little longer for the 5. I'm not going thru the whole 'wanting to upgrade but I can't' thing again.

    Apple & at&T should have been smart & had a new phone ready to upgrade to right when th 3GS owners were getting off contract. They missed the boat.

  1. aristotles

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I would always go with the second rev.

    I do not regret getting a 3GS and I think I made the right decision skipping the iPhone 4 and going with the second revision of that model with the iPhone 4S.

    We really don't know what possible issues the iPhone 5 might have that would have to be ironed out in an iPhone 5S release.

  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    2 year upgrade cycles

    The carriers do their best to lock you in for 2 years. Upgrading from a 2 year old iPhone is a massive leap forward.

    iPhone 4 is the best-selling smartphone in the US. Just imagine the huge demand for the iPhone 5 next year as iPhone 4 owners come off-plan...

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