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Monday, February 26, 2007, 09:00 am PT (12:00 pm ET)

Goldman: iPhone to drive 'next big growth phase' for Apple

Following a recent buying intention survey, investment bank Goldman Sach said it is increasingly confident in its estimates that Apple will sell more than 14 million iPhones through the 2008 holiday shopping season.

The survey, conducted in the US, UK, China, and India, found that the number of potential iPhone buyers is equivalent to 75 percent of the installed base of current iPod owners, with just under half of the potential buyers coming from respondents who have never owned an iPod.

In the US, 71 percent of respondents indicated interest in a potential Apple mobile phone, analyst David Bailey told clients, noting that the survey took place before the iPhone was unveiled in January.

Overall, Apple ranked as the No. 4 most desired handset brand in the US — again, the results coming before the formal demonstration of iPhone, which broadly exceeded expectations.

"Some of the concerns about the unwillingness of consumers to switch carriers to get the handset they want seem misplaced, with 30 percent of UK respondents and 15 percent in the US suggesting that they would switch," Bailey wrote.

He said the results offer increased confidence that Apple will meet his previous sales estimates of at least 4 million units in 2007 and 10.5 million in 2008.

In his analysis, Bailey assumed 25 percent video iPod cannibalization in 2007 and 50 percent in 2008, concluding that iPhone alone could add an incremental 4 to 5 percent to Apple’s revenue growth in those two years.

"We think that iPhone starts the next big growth phase for Apple," he wrote, "making it a core holding, and believe that the stock should be bought on dips prior to the product’s launch in June."