How Big Is the Potential Market for the iPhone?

At the Apple (AAPL) Worldwide Developers Conference coming up next week, CEO Steve Jobs is widely expected to unveil a new 3G version of the iPhone. Meanwhile, in the last few weeks, a number of carriers have announced deals to sell the phone, which will make it available in dozens of countries. Every time there’s another announcement, the Street issues higher estimates of the total addressable market for the device.

Pacific Crest’s Andy Hargreaves today asserts that the numbers have gotten out of hand. He points out in a research report this morning that the carriers that have announced deals with Apple have total subscribers of 669 million people, an increase of 520 million in the last month. That’s impressive: global handset sales are expected to be 1.27 billion this year, growing to 1.37 billion next year.

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