updated 10:28 am EDT, Wed May 21, 2014
Future buyers dropping as cycle slows, but demand still surprisingly strong
Investment firm Piper Jaffray and its lead Apple analyst Gene Munster have completed their latest survey on the level of interest among consumers for the latest iPhone. Unsurprisingly, the study found that interest is waning somewhat among potential buyers -- with the current models now nearly nine months old -- and that declared potential buyers are beginning to hang back in anticipation of the forthcoming "iPhone 6," expected this fall.
In a testament to the appeal of the iPhone line compared to its rivals, however, more than a third of the 1,016 US consumers surveyed said they expected to buy an iPhone in the next three months. The number of iPhone buyers could actually be higher, given that the entry-level iPhone 4S was not included in the survey's questionnaire. Of the 34 percent who intend to buy an iPhone soon, nearly all -- 29 percent -- intend to get an iPhone 5s, with just five percent opting for an iPhone 5c.
Munster, who conducted the survey, said that the results show stronger demand for iPhones late in their cycle than it has in previous years. He told clients that the iPhone -- especially the iPhone 5s -- has "staying power" compared to rivals and previous iPhone models. The survey, conducted quarterly, shows that the intention to buy has dropped steadily since the introduction of the latest iPhones last October, with 50 percent intending to purchase one within the next three months shortly after their debut, compared to 34 percent now.
The result is in line with the well-established annual cycle of iPhone models, which sees a new model introduced each fall. Every other year, the company tends to redesign the product as well, leading to much anticipation for this year's expected "iPhone 6." The forthcoming revision is expected to address the long-standing issue of larger screen sizes, and may be offered in more than one size configuration.
Based on last quarter's surprisingly-strong iPhone sales and increasing demand in foreign markets, Munster is predicting that Apple will sell 35 million iPhone units in the calendar second quarter (Apple's fiscal third quarter), ending in June. Given that screen size appears to be a major attractor for rival Android sales, should Apple choose to offer multiple sizes of iPhone ahead of the holiday season, it seems likely that Apple will continue to grow iOS marketshare in the US. Munster expects that "intention to buy" demand will return to 50 percent once the latest iPhones are announced.