With sales of the fourth generation of its popular iPhone smartphone still going strong, computer maker Apple is taking steps to ensure supply meets demand. The company raised its shipment goal for the first quarter of 2011 to around 20 million iPhones, the technology blog DigiTimes reported.
The blog quoted unnamed component suppliers based in Taiwan saying the first-quarter shipment goal for WCDMA iPhones has been adjusted from 13 million units to 14 million to 15 million units and soon-to-launch CDMA iPhones have been set at 5 million to 6 million units.
Sources also provided numbers on fourth-quarter iPhone sales worldwide, claiming sales of 15.5 million units, or 47 million iPhones sold in 2010. "Currently, Foxconn is the only maker of WCDMA iPhones, while Foxconn and Pegatron Technology have equally shared the production volume for the CDMA version, the sources noted," the article read.
The statements on CDMA phones are sure to add to the speculation surrounding the rumored arrival of the iPhone on Verizon's mobile network. Currently, network operator AT&T is the exclusive iPhone carrier.
The iPhone 4, with its new FaceTime video chat application, multitasking and other new capabilities, sold 1.7 million units in its first few days of launch in June. Largely on the strength of the iPhone 4 and iPad, Apple for its fourth quarter posted revenues of $20.34 billion and a net quarterly profit of $4.31 billion. Apple also sold 14.1 million iPhones in the quarter, buoyed by sales of the iPhone 4.
As 2010 winds down, the sales successes of the iPhone and Apple's iPad tablet computer, which currently claims more than 90 percent of the tablet market, position Apple for a strong kickoff in 2011. The iPad is expected to command a 53 percent market share through 2011, according to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, with Google Android-powered devices tallying 32.5 percent market share.
Last week, online retailer Alibaba.com issued silicon cases for an "iPad 2," sporting a larger space for the device's speaker as well as a space for a camera on the back of the tablet. The cases, which are offered in several pastel colors, prompted a blizzard of speculation on the Web as to the upcoming features of the popular gadget.
The appearance of "iPad 2" sleeves added to speculation first begun in early December, when Reuters posted an article suggesting Apple is hard at work on a smaller version of the iPad with a built-in camera. The news service cited manufacturers in Asia, with one source claiming the revamped model would feature cameras on the front and back of the device, enabling Apple's FaceTime video conferencing service. Another source said it would be slimmer and lighter and have a better resolution display than the first iPad.
While Apple is bound to lose market share in the tablet market eventually (Android devices are arguably the company's most capable challenger), investing in the company and its partners remains a safe bet, financial analysts say. "Investing in Apple-related shares is going to be a major theme for most of next year," Bevan Yeh, a fund manager at Prudential Securities investment Trust, who manages about $230 million and owns supplier shares, told Reuters. "Apple is still the main driver on most technology products, and this will help push the earnings of its suppliers even more in 2011."