Apple may receive a nice Christmas bonus in the form of 50 million iPhones sold over the December quarter.
Courtesy of J.P. Morgan analyst Katy Huberty, that forecast is a bit higher than the previous estimate and is based on heavy iPhone 5 demand anticipated by both suppliers and carriers. Last week's preorders for the new iPhone also were greater than expected, rising 100 percent from 2011's numbers for the iPhone 4s.
For the current quarter ending this month, Huberty now sees iPhone sales of 25 million, a modest bump from the previous forecast. The actual numbers for both the third and fourth quarters could be higher if component supplies improve. And if the first quarter of 2013 proves healthier than usual, the analyst predicts total iPhone sales of 200 million for all of next year.
Apple is already off to a solid start. The company said today that it sold more than 5 million iPhone 5 handsets over the weekend. However, some analysts were projecting sales as high as 10 million.
China is likely to be a major contributor to iPhone 5 sales with more carriers set to offer the new phone, Huberty said in a research note out today.
China Unicom could start shipping the iPhone 5 as soon as this December. China Telecom is expected to follow suit in next year's first quarter. And Apple is reportedly working with China Mobile to offer an iPhone 5 compatible with the carrier's TD-LTE network.
Huberty expects the LTE-enabled iPhone 5 to trigger a strong wave of upgrades for the rest of the year and throughout 2013.