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The best news for Apple: The iPhone is still generating monster profits

Published Jan 23rd, 2013 5:25PM EST
Apple Earnings Analysis iPhone ASP

Many expected a black Christmas for the iPhone average sales prices. CIRP had estimated that the iPhone 5 portion of total iPhone sales had dropped below 70%. The 64 GB version of the iPhone 5 was projected to have sold far worse than the 64 GB version of the iPhone 4S the year before. Some brokerages were whispering that iPhone 5 might be close to 50% of the total iPhone volume.

None of these claims seem possible in the light of $641 average sales price Apple (AAPL) just reported. This is actually up $5 sequentially and down just 3% from the Christmas quarter of 2011. This is a fairly amazing performance in the smartphone market, where many vendors are wrestling with 10-15% annualized ASP declines. But it’s particularly noteworthy considering how much speculation there was out there about disastrously weak iPhone 5 and 64 GB iPhone model sales. It  now looks like none of the research houses that created detailed, apparently very impressive breakdowns of different iPhone variant sales had any idea of what was actually happening.

There is simply no way the iPhone ASP could top $640 if the iPhone 5 portion of the overall iPhone sales was below 70%, let alone below 60%. Or rather, to achieve that outcome we would have to make some outlandish assumptions, such as a sudden 32 GB iPhone 4S sales spike.

It is now starting to look as if the original CIRP research report on iPhone sales ratios from early December was simply copied by certain major brokerage houses who started looking for compelling reasons to lower iPhone revenue estimates as the Apple share price continued declining through December and most of January. This episode does not boost confidence in the originality or reliability of Wall Street research.

After launching mobile game company SpringToys tragically early in 2000, Tero Kuittinen spent eight years doing equity research at firms including Alliance Capital and Opstock. He is currently an analyst and VP of North American sales at mobile diagnostics and expense management Alekstra, and has contributed to, Forbes and Business 2.0 Magazine in addition to BGR.