By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
March 31, 2008

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster took a lot of heat back in June 2007 when he predicted, three weeks before Apple even began selling the iPhone, that the company would be shipping them at the rate of 45 million a year by 2009.

But Munster is sticking to his guns, and on Monday released a detailed report to clients in which he lays out the steps by which he expects Apple (AAPL) to hit his target — quadrupling 2008 sales.

  • By introducing a 3G iPhone within the next 3 to 6 months
  • By offering a family of 2 to 3 iPhones — including lower-priced models selling for $200 to $300 — by Jan 2009 at the latest
  • By entering new countries, effectively doubling the addressable market every year for the next two years.
  • By adding new features, such as games (Tiger Woods Golf, played by swinging the iPhone?) and remote purchases (Starbucks lattes without the wait?) starting in June.

Conceding that most investors consider his 45 million estimate “outrageously aggressive,” Munster supports it with a somewhat mysterious chart that compares the 409% year-to-year growth rate of the iPod in its breakout years with his estimate of just over 300% for the iPhone.

What’s mysterious about this chart is that it shows sales of 35.6 million iPhones in fiscal 2009, not the 45 million Munster is projecting. The discrepancy may be due to the difference between Apple’s fiscal year and our calendar year, but Munster does not explain it.

Slightly clearer is the roadmap Munster offers for Apple’s overseas expansion. He points out that iPhone has achieved roughly 3% penetration of the 153 million subscriber base in the six countries in which it is currently sold. The following chart shows how he expects Apple to double that addressable market over the next two years. Note that Japan is the only Asian country he’s counting on for 2008. China, he says, is not likely to sign on until Apple drops its insistence on revenue sharing, something he expects the company to do in 2009.

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