John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Verizon iPhone Demand Could Hit Nearly 25 Million, Theoretically

It’s indisputable that Verizon is going to sell a lot of iPhones when the device finally arrives on its network. The question is how many? And the answer is as varied as the research houses trying to pinpoint the number. On the low end, analysts have been calling for nine million, and at the highest end, 12 million.

Until today, when R.W. Baird & Co. analyst William Power reset those parameters with a bullish new potentiality: 23.8 million iPhones sold to Verizon subscribers in the first year.

That’s about double the top end of the range I mentioned (it’s also more than a quarter of Verizon’s current subscriber base). But according to Power–who cautions that this is a “directional number” and not a forecast (there are constraints around how many devices Apple can actually ship)–a recent Baird survey of 1,000 smartphone users supports it. From the survey:

  • 29 percent of current Verizon feature phone owners said they will “probably” or “definitely” upgrade to the Verizon iPhone in the next three months. The carrier has roughly 64 million postpaid feature phone users, so that’s 19 million potential iPhone upgrades, assuming eligibility.
  • 25 percent of Verizon’s current smartphone users said they will “probably” or “definitely” switch to the iPhone. That’s 4.8 million additional potential iPhone sales, again assuming eligibility.

Grand total: 23.8 million potential Verizon iPhone sales–from the carrier’s installed base alone. Add to that the 5.6 percent of current AT&T iPhone users who told Baird they planned to switch to Verizon and that number rises to nearly 25 million.

Which sounds fantastical, seemingly even to Power, who is standing by his current forecast of 10 million iPhone activations at Verizon. But it does suggest, strongly, that demand could be far greater than anyone has anticipated.

That’s great for Verizon (though perhaps less so for its network) and even better for Apple. Not too bad for AT&T, either. Doesn’t bode well for Android handset makers like Motorola Mobility, though. As CEO Sanjay Jha said during an earnings call yesterday, the company has already seen a slowing of device shipments around news of the Verizon iPhone. “Since the announcement of the iPhone, we have seen some slowdown in our sell through of devices at Verizon,” Jha said. “There was anticipation of devices coming to Verizon even prior the announcement of the iPhone.”

Below, a carrier-by-carrier breakdown of interest in the Verizon iPhone. Each pie chart represents the base of subscribers at each carrier who plan to purchase a smartphone in the next three months. Note: the 25 percent / 29percent numbers above refer to the percentage of the total base of Verizon respondents (i.e. Verizon respondents who plan to purchase a smartphone in the next three months plus those who don’t).

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