U.S. Customers Unsurprisingly Delaying New iPhone Purchases as iPhone 6 Launch Nears
A study from Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster unsurprisingly shows that interest in the iPhone is waning as the current lineup ages and users are increasingly looking toward an expected fall launch for the iPhone 6. The survey asked 1,016 U.S. consumers about their plans to buy a new smartphone in the next three months.
According to Munster, only 34 percent of surveyed consumers plan to buy an iPhone in the coming months, down from the 50 percent reported shortly after the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c launch in September of last year. While interest in the iPhone wanes, consumer attention towards Android has increased as the balance shifts toward the newest handsets. Leading Android vendor Samsung introduced its latest flagship Galaxy S5 handset in February ahead of a launch last month.
This declining interest in the iPhone is not surprising, given the cyclic nature of product launches. With the iPhone midway in its product cycle, consumers may be delaying their purchase of a new iPhone due to rumors that suggest Apple's iPhone 6 is likely to arrive this fall. The effect of rumors on a consumer's purchasing decision is nothing new -- Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer blamed rumors for declining iPhone sales in the months preceding the launch of the iPhone 4S. The iPhone 6 also appears set to bring a larger than normal upgrade spike as the device moves to a significantly larger display.
Even with U.S. customers delaying their purchases, Piper Jaffray still sees reason for optimism with continued strong international sales and even U.S. planned purchase rates remaining as high as 34 percent.
The Mar-14 quarter showed 17% y/y iPhone growth, which was significantly ahead of Street expectations for low single digit y/y growth. We believe that the iPhone showed significant strength in overseas markets, in addition to the China Mobile launch, that enabled it to grow meaningfully higher than expectations. While our survey is US focused, we believe the data suggests that the iPhone, particularly the highest-end 5S model, continues to have staying power given about a third of US smartphone consumers expect to purchase an iPhone in the next three months. We view the stronger March quarter in addition to our survey as an indication that iPhone can remain healthy into the iPhone 6 upgrade in September.
Apple's next-generation iPhone is expected to launch this fall with a 4.7-inch display, a faster A8 processor, and an upgraded rear-facing camera with image stabilization. It may also feature a thinner profile with a new power button layout and elongated buttons to accommodate the changes in form factor. An even larger 5.5-inch model may also be in the works, although it could launch several months later than the 4.7-inch version.