Most of Apple’s top analysts are predicting the first fall in iPhone sales, after an earlier report suggested large amounts of inventory were being held by suppliers, instead of being shipped to the manufacturer’s factories.
The report also claimed that Foxconn started laying off employees at one of its main factories, after receiving word that Apple needed less iPhone units.
Pacific Crest analysts Andy Hargreaves and Evan Wingren forecast 72.7 million sales in the fourth quarter of 2015 and 49.5 million sales for the first quarter of 2016, down 20 percent on last year, the lowest of the seven summaries given to Business Insider.
UBS analysts Steven Milunovich and Peter Christiansen were more positive, with a forecast of 75 million sales in the fourth quarter, through December 2015, and 50 million sales for the first quarter of 2016, representing an 18-percent drop. The analysts also predicted 220 million sales for 2016 overall, a 5-percent yearly drop.
Kulbinder Garcha of Credit Suisse forecast 76.9 million fourth-quarter sales, up slightly on last year, but 51.9 million first-quarter sales through March, a 15-percent fall from last year. Similarly, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster forecast a small rise in fourth-quarter sales to 75-76 million, but a decline in first quarter sales to 55 million, a 10-percent drop on the previous year.
Katy Huberty of Morgan Stanley, one of the first to lower expectations for iPhone sales, predicted 74 million sales in the fourth quarter of 2015 and 52 million for the first quarter of 2016, with a total projection of 216 million sales in 2016, a six-percent drop.
Stifel analyst Aaron Rakers said the iPhone fourth quarter sales through December will be flat at 74.7 million, but projected 56 million first-quarter sales, representing the lowest drop out of the seven analysts, at eight percent.
Raymond James analysts predicted 224 million to 229 million total iPhone sales over 2016, a 7.2 percent reduction.
When a group of analysts all have similar predictions, they tend to be right. Apple has not said anything about production issues, so we suspect the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus are just not as interesting to customers as the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were last year. The growth of Huawei in China might also have something to do with lower sales aswell, as the Chinese telecommunications giant begins to cement its position in its home country.
Apple might shake things up with the rumored iPhone 6C or iPhone 5E announcement in March, which could turn the rather bleak predictions into another win for the company.