Strategy Analytics has released a report this morning revealing that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has sold more than 250 million iPhones since the device was first released almost five years ago. The news will come as little surprise to any following the stellar success of the mobile device.
As all heads turn toward the upcoming release of the iPhone 5 some time later this year, Apple’s prospects are continuing to look incredible. Most analysts expect a surge in demand for the new device on release as pent up demand for a new model expresses itself.
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With the release of each new iPhone model in the last five years there has been a consistent uptick in demand for the product. Analysts have used this kind of projection to set target prices for the company’s stock in the region of $700-$1000 in twelve months.
The report also enumerated the amount of money the iPhone has generated for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) in the last five years. The figure is placed squarely at $150 billion in revenue in the period. Despite the incredible record, the future may be more challenging at Cupertino.
The report highlights a couple of phenomena that might contribute to a slow down in the growth of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). The first is the saturation of the smart phone market in the Western world. That will lead to lower demand for new models as time goes by, and the pattern will be cumulative. As more smart phones are sold there will be fewer people without them.
The second is increased competition. Samsung’s efforts have resulted in the company becoming the world’s top smart phone manufacturer, ousting Apple from the pinnacle. Windows Phone 8 is to be released later this year, and the third option in the industry will put added pressure on Apple’s sales.
The size of Apple’s margins, and therefore profit, are still comparable to a company working in a monopoly market. Consumers, and often carriers, see Apple as providing something entirely different, and are willing to pay a premium for it. If that changes so might Apple’s ability to replicate its performance in coming years.
The iPhone was released five years ago. In that time it has precipitated a complete change in computing, the likes of which has not been seen since the growth of internet use in the late 1990s. It has spawned hundreds of other smart phone models and the tablet computer.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is an innovator in almost all of the fields it works in. The company has probably created more value in the last five years than any other on earth. As so many hedge fund portfolios say, past performance is not a guide to future performance.
That having been said, the company is still the strongest performer in the consumer device sphere. It has something going for it that consumers simply cannot get from Android phones, for one reason or another. The fifth generation of the iPhone is certainly a time to look back and reconsider. It is not a time for despair, or exuberance on the firm’s outlook.