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Apple’s next iPhones might unleash a huge upgrade cycle

Ahead of Apple’s now-confirmed fall event on Sept. 12 at which the iPhone maker will show off new models of its flagship product, there’s apparently a big wave of upgrades coming from users eager to switch out their current device for one of Apple’s newest handsets.
That’s according to a note from analyst Gene Munster of Loup Ventures, which said his firm polled what (to be fair) is a relatively small set of U.S. consumers (530) but found that almost half acknowledged an intent to upgrade to a newer iPhone within the next year. The exact figure was 48 percent, compared to 25 percent who responded that they intended to upgrade in June of last year.
Moreover, some 19 percent of Android users as part of that same survey indicated they want to move over to an iPhone, up from 12 percent a year ago.
So what does it all mean, and what can we expect from data like this? Loup Ventures cautions the results are probably a better directional guide than they are an empirical forecast and that expectations based off of it “should be tempered (intent to buy vs. actual purchase conversion varies cycle to cycle), but the survey is nonetheless a positive indicator of upcoming iPhone demand.”
Analyzing the survey results, a TechRadar report today speculated about whether this is all about that notch. iPhone users may be eager to upgrade, in other words, because of design — specifically, the fact that the distinctive design of the iPhone X is increasingly being mimicked by other handset makers, and customers may start to feel left out if their phone isn’t part of the notch crowd. Which presumably screams “old phone.”
Apple, meanwhile, is expected to show off three new iPhone models at its fall event on Sept. 12. Those will include a 5.8-inch OLED-screen replacement for the iPhone X, a much bigger 6.5-inch OLED iPhone X Plus, and a cheaper iPhone with a 6.1-inch LCD screen.
A bottom-line takeaway from the Loup Ventures survey: “iPhone is entering a period of stability (0% to 5% unit growth for the next several years, driven by 805m+ active iPhones with a high (90%) retention rate. Assuming a 3.5-year upgrade cycle and a 90% retention rate implies 207m iPhones sold each year, slightly below the Street’s 219m expected in FY18 and FY19.”

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