WSJ: Apple has ordered 85-90 million iPhones

Tour Of The Foxconn Complex And Interview With CEO Terry Guo
Employees of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd. work along a production line in the Longhua Science and Technology Park, also known as Foxconn City, in Shenzhen, China, on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010. Foxconn Technology Group Chairman Terry Gou cut his long-term growth target for the world's largest contract manufacturer of electronics by 50 percent as demand for Apple Inc. iPhones and iPads fails to offset slowing computer sales. Photographer: Thomas Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by Thomas Lee — Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Wall Street Journal’s Lorraine Luk and Daisuke Wakabayashi have made some calls to Apple’s Asian suppliers and assemblers and come up with a rough estimate of how many new iPhones Cupertino has ordered up for the fall.

According to the Journal’speople familiar with the matter,” Apple asked for 85 to 90 million units to be assembled, more than the 70 to 80 million it ordered last year at this time, but not that much more.

In the first half of fiscal 2015, Apple sold a record 135.6 million iPhones, up 43% from 2014. A range of 85 million to 90 million works out to 12% to 20% more than last year.

Of course, the number of devices Apple orders does not necessarily correspond to the number it sells, but stories like this—whether reported or leaked—send a signal to investors. The message this time: Don’t expect a repeat of last year’s extraordinary growth.

That shouldn’t be a surprise.

“Apple tends to release new iPhones in a ‘ticktock’ cycle,” Luk and Wakabayashi explain. “In a ‘tick’ year, Apple introduces a major design change, such as last year’s bigger displays. In the following ‘tock’ year, it refines the previous year’s design and sometimes makes more significant changes to the software.”

This is a “tock” year. Photos of iPhone parts previously leaked suggest that the biggest hardware change will be ForceTouch, the pressure sensitive screen technology introduced in Apple Watch and the one-port MacBook.

That’s not the kind of game changer Apple’s belated entry into the jumbo-sized smartphone market turned out to be.

Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple (AAPL) coverage at or subscribe via his RSS feed.

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