iPhone fever: Latest numbers point to a big July

September 4, 2007, 11:11 AM UTC
Fortune

Appleiphone
Remember July, when the business press seemed to turn against Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone? Near the end of the month, when Apple reported earnings, some analysts and pundits decided that the phone’s activation numbers through AT&T (T) were disappointing.

I said then that the market’s reaction to those reports was just plain silly, and the latest data seems to be bearing that out: Research firm iSuppli now says the iPhone was the bestselling smartphone in July, beating out Research in Motion’s (RIM) BlackBerry, Motorola’s (MOT) Q, and all other comers.

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iSuppli’s iPhone numbers were calculated based on a survey iSuppli conducts. The firm has this to say about its methodology: “iSuppli’s U.S. Consumer Panel Survey is conducted on-line monthly using
a continually refreshed panel of more than 2 million participants in
the United States. The samples are census-balanced and are
validity-checked using iSuppli’s proprietary databases and algorithms.”

(This method, and its description as a “consumer panel survey” makes me wonder whether the survey properly counted sales of the enterprise-heavy BlackBerry; but RIM’s devices have been on sale long enough that iSuppli should be able to estimate its monthly sales within reason.)

Unfortunately, iSuppli couldn’t just let things stand with the July estimate, and its prediction that Apple will sell nearly 4.5 million iPhones in 2007; the firm goes on to project that Apple will ship nearly 27 million iPhones in 2010 and more than 30 million in 2011 (see the chart below).
Generally speaking, these firms are good at telling us what just happened, and OK at telling us what’s going to happen this year, but pretty bad at predicting what will happen four years  from  now, so bear that in mind as you mull the data.

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iPhone Shipment Forecast (in Millions of Units)

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011

Millions of Units 4.49 13.5 21.1 26.8 30.02

Source: iSuppli Corp. 9/07