iPhone sales won't heat up until the December quarter after Apple unveils a low-cost model. At least, that's the forecast from analyst Gene Munster.
For June quarter results, which Apple reports on Tuesday, Munster expects iPhone sales of 26 million, on par with Wall Street projections. If accurate, that would match the number sold during the same quarter in 2012.
For the September quarter, the analyst anticipates iPhone sales of just 24 million, lower than the 26.9 million sold over the same period last year. That estimate assumes that the widely expected iPhone 5S ships during the second to last week in September.
But the picture for Apple looks cheerier once the holiday season rolls around.
Boosted by the debut of a rumored low-cost iPhone, Apple could sell 62 million iPhones during the last calendar quarter of 2013, according to Munster. Wall Street expects just 50 million units. But that number does not assume the rollout of a low-cost version, which Munster believes could trigger 12 million unit sales on its own.
Still, that 62 million figure could be knocked down by cannibalization from the cheaper model, the analyst added in an investors note released Monday.
"We are assuming a 50 percent cannibalization factor from the cheaper phone, which may be too aggressive as we have yet to hear launch details," Munster said. "If you add back cannibalized phones, our 'core' iPhone unit estimate for Dec-13 would be 56 million or 17 percent [year-on-year] growth for the first full quarter of iPhone 5S."
For the last quarter of 2012 (Apple's first fiscal 2013 quarter), the company sold 47.8 million iPhones.