While there’s plenty of debate surrounding the next-generation iPhone’s specifics, there’s one thing we do know for sure, and that is that the new device will make its debut at some point during 2012. In preparation for that, Apple has cut existing iPhone orders by around 25%.
In a note to investors this week, Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu revealed that Apple has reduced its iPhone orders for the March quarter by between 20% and 25%. That’s led Wu to drop his shipping expectations for the device to between 26 million and 28 million units, contrasting the 31 million figure currently being forecast by Wall Street.
The reason for this is not that the demand for the iPhone is reducing, Wu said. But rather the impending launch of the sixth-generation iPhone:
From our understanding, the reason for the reduction is not demand related but rather due to the upcoming 6th generation iPhone refresh likely in the September-October timeframe.
It appears that AAPL is opting to be conservative with its suppliers to factor in a potential 2-quarter pause ahead of the refresh and also to manage inventory. We believe this helps explain why its June quarter guidance was somewhat more conservative.
That “2-quarter pause” quashes any dreams of a new iPhone at this year’s WWDC event in early June. But let’s face it, no one’s really expecting to see the device before this fall.
Wu also noted in his report that iPad orders have now gone in the opposite direction, rising from 14 million to 15 million units for the same quarter. While Apple previously encountered problems sourcing the tablet’s high-resolution Retina display, the situation has been “greatly improved by an additional supplier.”