By Anu Passary | Sep 13, 2012 12:48 PM EDT
The hotly-anticipated Apple smartphone has finally been revealed, and it is eliciting mixed reactions from tech experts and consumers. While some are of the opinion that the iPhone 5 lacks a "wow" factor and is evolutionary rather than revolutionary, suggesting that it may have a tough time in the competitive smartphone market, others feel that Apple will be able to deliver on its promise and meet its sales estimates.
With analysts divided over Apple's latest smartphone offering, take a look at some first impressions of the iPhone 5.
Katy Huberty, Morgan Stanley's chief Apple analyst, forecasts that "several data points" in the coming months will be indicative of the iPhone 5's demand, giving a clearer market picture. Huberty expects that Apple will likely offer a press release on Sept. 17, which will give insights into the iPhone 5's pre-order volume. Additionally, a tear-down analysis of the iPhone 5 is likely on Sept. 21, once the smartphone hits the shelves, which will confirm whether the Apple offering's "baseband chip has TD support for China Mobile."
Another key indication of demand could be an Apple press release on first weekend sales volumes, which is expected to surface on Sept. 24. Huberty also points to supply data points from Asia and a "potential business trend update by Apple's partners before earnings in mid-October."
"iPhone 5 highlights Apple's unique ability to deliver innovative products leveraging its software and hardware expertise, and app and media ecosystem... We are surprised by the conservative near-term investor expectations, which is a good thing for the stock," noted Huberty.
Merrill Lynch analyst Scott Craig maintained that despite intensified competition in the smartphone arena, and the gap between iPhone and its rivals narrowing, the company will be sticking to their bullish stance on the iPhone 5 cycle. Apple continued to remain their "top pick."
"Overall, we view the iPhone 5 as evolutionary, exemplifying Apple's clockwork-like refinements in software and hardware," said Craig.
Earlier in July, Maynard Um had noted that Apple's component prepayments had grown by 1.15 billion, indicating that a multiple product launch was in the anvil. With the launch of the iPhone 5, iPod touch, iPod nano, EarPods, and Lightning Dock at the press event, Um's prediction has come true.
The Wells Fargo analyst opines that the iPhone 5 has the fastest Apple rollout schedule ever. Initially, on Sept. 21, the iPhone 5 will be launching in nine countries compared to the iPhone 4S's seven. The next-gen iPhone is slated to launch in additional twenty countries on Sept. 28 and "over 100 countries & 240 carriers by 12/2012."
By contrast, Um noted that the iPhone 4S's initial launch was followed by its release in "22 countries two weeks later and over 70 countries at the end of 12/2011." The iPhone 4 was "initially launched in five countries and 18 countries in the first month."
Chris Whitman of Deutsche Bank estimates that the iPhone 5 will propel a healthy upgrade cycle and have greater visibility. Deutsche Bank raised its price target from $650 to $775. Whitman also hoped that the investors would "increasingly discount our 2013 EPS estimates and value AAPL on '13 numbers."
Anil Doradla, analyst with William Blair &Co. acknowledged that the iPhone 5 was faster, thinner, and notably more efficient than its predecessors; however, it had no "wow factor."
"While we were impressed with the product improvements and the aggressive rollout schedule, the announcement did lack the "wow factor" we have seen in some of Apple's new product announcements," said Doradla.
Peter Misek of Jeffries noted that the iPhone 5 announcement was in keeping with the previews. However, Misek avers that the smartphone is launching sooner than investors' expectations and at more carriers than estimated. The nearing launch date affirms that Apple is right on schedule and the fears of supply constraints were unwarranted.
Earlier, Misek in his note "Virtually certain to be unveiled" had detailed the iPhone 5 details and averred that the iPad Mini would not be launching alongside the iPhone.
Misek anticipates that the iPhone 5 will generate good sales figures, propelling Apple's stock prices.
"We see numerous catalysts for the shares to perform well over the next couple months and the next year," noted Misek.
Gene Munster, senior research analyst with Piper Jaffray believes that the iPhone 5 will pass the consumer litmus test, meeting or exceeding expectations. The firm is so confident of Apple's new product that it even increased its September quarter estimates by 5.2 million. Munster had earlier predicted that the iPhone 5 will sell 10 million units within the first three weeks of launch itself.
"The redesigned phone gives us greater confidence in our feeling that Apple will sell 6-10 million iPhone 5s by the end of September and we are increasing our September quarter iPhone unit estimate to 27.2 million from 22 million to reflect our confidence," said Munster.
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