According to a new report from Barclays analyst Mark Moskowitz, Apple will skip the iPhone 7s in favor of a redesigned iPhone 8 in 2017.
Moskowitz also says that those expecting a major overhaul in the iPhone 7, scheduled to be released this September, will be disappointed. He believes that the next generation Apple smartphone will be an incremental update before a redesign in 2017.
ValueWalk's Raul Panganiban interviews Kirk Du Plessis, Founder and CEO of Option Alpha, and discuss Option Alpha and his general approach to investing. Q1 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more The following is a computer generated transcript and may contain some errors. Interview with Option Alpha's Kirk Du Plessis
2016 iPhone could be an incremental upgrade
The iPhone 3GS, launched in 2009, retained the same design as its predecessor the iPhone 3G. However it used different internal components to entice people to upgrade. Since then a pattern has emerged, with Apple releasing the iPhone 4 in 2010, iPhone 4S in 2011, iPhone 5 in 2012, iPhone 5s in 2013, iPhone 6/6 Plus in 2014 and iPhone 6s/6s Plus in 2015.
However Moskowitz believes that the pattern is set to change with the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus widely expected to be released this September. Rumors include the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack to allow for an ultra-thin design, and the therefore necessary introduction of wireless headphones.
The analyst says that the new smartphone will be more like an incremental “s” upgrade than a major upgrade and won’t come with “any must-have form factor changes.” According to his supply chain checks the new iPhone 7 will only have a few minor changes and updated components.
Apple to break with normal release cycle, says analyst
“In such a case, iPhone 7 could be more of a replacement cycle versus a mega cycle (i.e. iPhone 6),” Moskowitz wrote, in reference to the huge success of the iPhone 6 launch in 2014. The handset introduced widespread design changes and new components.
This would mark a huge departure for the company and Moskowitz is concerned about the iPhone’s performance this year as a result. He has now lowered his estimate on iPhone unit sales, predicting that Apple will sell 1.8% fewer iPhones this year than it did in 2015.
Moskowitz previously predicted that iPhone sales would increase by 2.6% this year. However the assumption that there will be a lack of major changes means that he has changed his opinion.
Barclays looking to iPhone 8 to drive growth
Apple investors are likely to be upset if Moskowitz proves to be right. The iPhone is the largest individual section of Apple’s business and it has grown each and every year since its launch. However poor performance in 2016 could see investors fearing that the market is “nearing situation,” said the analyst.
However Moskowitz predicts that 2017 could be a huge year for the company, with the release of the iPhone 8. By skipping the iPhone 7s, Apple could release a new smartphone with the major design changes that we won’t see this year.
“The jump could showcase major form factor changes, including OLED, no home button, and wireless charging,” Moskowitz said, citing sources. “In our view, these potential changes could drive a mega cycle.”
Should Apple go straight to a radically different iPhone 8 in 2017, Moskowitz predicts that sales would increase by 10.3%. Existing rumors appear to back up the analyst’s claims.
Rumors already swirling on iPhone 8 design
Korean news outlets have been reporting that Apple has signed a deal with Samsung for the sale of 100 million OLED display units for the 2017 iPhone. This would be the first time that Apple has moved away from LCD screens for the iPhone.
The idea of major changes coming in 2017 was also raised by renowned Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities. He cited his own sources who report that a redesigned 2017 iPhone would feature an all-glass finish.
With the iPhone 7 not even released yet it seems remarkable that we are already talking about the iPhone 8. However Apple has a huge influence on the entire technology sector and investors are always interested to hear what is going on at the company.
Last week shares in chipmaker Qualcomm dipped on the rumor that Apple might have decided to use a different supplier the modems that will be used in the iPhone 7. Apple is a hugely important company for both investors and consumers, so it is understandable that analysts such as Moskowitz are taking a long view.
It would be interesting if Apple does decide to break with a long-existing pattern, but it is looking increasingly likely that this year’s iPhone will bring minimal changes. If the rumors are true, 2016 could be a transitional year for Apple, building to a huge year in 2017. However Apple has not released any information on its future plans, and all of these rumors should be taken with a pinch of salt.
Keep your eye out for the latest rumors, which are of equal interest to consumers and shareholders in the company.