Apple's latest version of its popular smartphone, the iPhone 5, is helping drive sales of the device ever higher, according to an analyst at Canaccord Genuity, who said sales of the iPhone could reach 173 million units this year.
"Based on our analysis, we believe demand for the iPhone 5 was very strong during the December quarter," Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Walkley wrote in his research report published Jan. 7. "Given this strong demand, combined with our expectations, Apple could launch new iPhone products earlier in 2013 than the past couple years. We maintain our above-consensus 2013 iPhone unit sales estimate of 173 million."
Walkley also adjusted his annual revenue estimates for 2013, to $200.3 billion from $200.2 billion, and for 2014, to $223.94 billion from $223.87 billion. He noted Apple's industry-leading software ecosystem and its leading hardware expertise will lead to a strong product cycle for its key products.
"We believe Apple is well-positioned for strong 2013/14 sales and earnings growth driven by new-product introductions, including the recently launched iPhone 5, iPad Mini and recently refreshed iPod, MacBook and iMac lineup," he wrote.
The iPhone 5, widely acclaimed as one of the best smartphones on the market, has continued Apple's strong foray into the highly competitive smartphone space. Even Consumer Reports, which has come down hard on Apple in the past, lent its stamp of approval to the latest model. The iPhone 5 is "the best iPhone yet" and among the best smartphones in its official rankings, the consumer watchdog announced in an Oct. 5 blog post.
Strong sales since the iPhone 5's Sept. 21 release have also put Apple back on top in the United States, according to a Nov. 27 report from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. Apple's iOS now commands a 48.1 percent share of U.S. smartphone sales, beating out rival Google Android's 46.7 percent.
Apple's primary Android-based competitor is Samsung and its Galaxy S III. At the start of November, Samsung officials announced the company had sold more than 30 million units since the pocket-challenging device went on sale in May. Analysts have applauded Samsung's timing of the release, which took advantage of the long summer ahead of Apple's historically autumn-timed introduction of its newest iPhone.
However, Samsung continues to lead its rivals as the top OEM with 26.9 percent market share. The Android operating system took the market share lead, accounting for 53.7 percent of smartphone subscribers, according to the ComScore MobiLens service, a survey of more than 30,000 U.S. mobile subscribers during a three-month period ending in November 2012.