Despite the immense popularity of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, a recent KGI prediction estimates that Apple may sell somewhere between 65 and 75 million of the so-called "iPhone 6s" and "iPhone 6s Plus" in Q4 2015, pointing towards a strong possibility of zero or negative growth year-over-year for the smartphone line.
According to Apple Daily [Google Translate] (via GforGames), the report states that the two biggest factors for the predicted performance plateau or decline of this year's iPhone lies in weak sales for China and public ambivalence towards Force Touch as a flagship feature of the "S" generation.
The analyst quoted by the Taiwanese media says there are two main factors that could contribute to these results. First of all, compared to last year, smartphone sales in China have declined along with the spending power, and as you should all know, China is the largest smartphone market in the world.
Secondly, the analyst says that another big reason that could contribute to the iPhone 6s duo yielding zero or negative growth is Force Touch. More to the point, the technology itself should not slow down the market performance, but because Force Touch is supposed to be one of iPhone 6s’ main new driving feature and due to the fact that the public hasn’t been wowed by FT on the Watch and the new MacBook, the inclusion of Force Touch on the upcoming iPhone flagship might not attract as many customers as Apple might hope.
Apple still has high hopes for China, remaining bullish on the country as becoming its "largest market in the future," spurring the company to factor in Chinese consumer tastes as major influences for the design of its products worldwide. If KGI's estimates become true, it would indeed come under Apple's results from earlier in the year, which the company reported to be 74.5 million iPhones sold total.
Although not a complete confirmation of the rumor, the KGI report also suggests that Apple recently reduced its manufacturing orders for the iPhone 6s by a total of 1 percent, pointing towards the possibility of a lower yield on this year's generation of iPhone. The most recent news on the "iPhone 6s" and "iPhone 6s Plus" described the way Force Touch may work on iOS, hinted at a stronger shell to avoid another "Bendgate" scandal, and pointed to a late-August ramp-up for mass production ahead of the predicted September reveal.
Update 7:45 AM: MacRumors has obtained a copy of Kuo's note outlining his thoughts on China and Force Touch.
Weaker-than-last-year China consumption a concern for new iPhone shipments momentum. China was the primary growth driver for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus shipments in 3Q14-2Q15. Demand from China could be weakened YoY in 2015 due to the stock market correction there, leaving shipments momentum of the 2015 new iPhone models in doubt.
No killer application created by Force Touch as yet. Force Touch has already been used in Apple Watch and MacBook without prompting strongly positive market feedback. We are, therefore, not certain whether it can provide sufficient appeal to shore up shipments momentum of the new iPhone models to be launched this year, though we are positive on its potential contribution to the Apple user experience in the long run.
Kuo notes Force Touch players in Apple's supply chain will see a strong boost regardless of iPhone 6s sales numbers, given it's an entirely new business for these companies, but the effect on the rest of Apple's supply chain partners remains to be seen.