An apparent shift by iPhone 3G buyers to lower-priced 8GB models reportedly prompted Apple to trim by 4 million the number of handsets it will build for the rest of 2008. Cupertino will order 14 million to 15 million phones instead of 18 million analysts first projected.
Pacific Crest’s Apple analyst said Friday “supply-chain checks” found since mid-September Apple is not meaningfully resupplying AT&T stores that have sold down their inventory of 8GB iPhone 3Gs.
“The popularity of the 8GB model reinforces our concern that smartphone demand has shifted to a lower price point,” wrote Pacific Crest analyst Andy Hargreaves.
The analyst said if Apple decides to drop the iPhone 3G 16GB price to $199 from $279 and introduce a 32GB model for $299, the announcement could further pressure component suppliers.
With the possibility of fewer 8GB iPhones, Hargreaves lowered by $5 million quarterly revenue expectations for Skyworks Solutions and Triquint Semiconductor, which both make power amplifiers for the 8GB iPhone.
The projected cut in iPhone production for the remainder of 2008 could also hurt memory makers SanDisk and Micron Technology already battered by low NAND prices, Pacific Crest believes.
Like other analysts, Hargreaves cited “improved confidence” and upped his expectations for iPhone sales. He now believes Apple will have sold 11 million iPhones for the first half of 2008, an increase from 8 million previously predicted. The projection means Apple CEO Steve Jobs will sell 9.74 million for the full fiscal 2008.