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Wednesday, February 09, 2011, 06:35 am PT (09:35 am ET)

Sales of Apple's Verizon iPhone predicted to top 1M in first week

Despite the fact that the new Verizon iPhone 4 is essentially the same as the model that went on sale 8 months ago with rival carrier AT&T, Apple is still predicted to top a million sales of the highly anticipated handset in the first week.

Analyst Mike Abramsky with RBC Capital Markets said in a note to investors on Wednesday that he believes Apple and Verizon will surpass 1 million phones sold in the first week. He also expects robust sales to continue, with between 3 million and 4 million handsets selling in the first quarter of availability.

Based on estimated pre-order demand and available inventory, Abramsky believes that Verizon, Apple and Best Buy retail stores may completely stock out in the first week on their way to 1 million units sold. He expects that Apple has between a million and 1.5 million in channel inventory for the launch.

And if Apple does manage to activate between 3 million and 4 million Verizon iPhones for the quarter, those numbers would lag behind the more than 5 million activations AT&T had in its first full quarter of iPhone 4 availability between July and September of 2010. The analyst said he believes the smaller number of activations will occur for a number of reasons:
  • The iPhone 4 at Verizon is new but not novel
  • Verizon has not offered the same aggressive early upgrade options as AT&T
  • AT&T's incentives, such as early upgrades, may have locked in potential customers
  • Verizon has many existing Android users under a two-year contract
  • At $30 per month, the only data plan available for Verizon iPhone 4 users is twice the cost of the $15 entry level data plan on AT&T
  • AT&T's first quarter of sales offered a longer window of 13 weeks; Verizon will only have 7 weeks of sales
  • Some buyers will delay their purchase and wait for the next-generation iPhone 5

For calendar year 2011, Abramsky sees between 9 million and 10 million Verizon iPhones being sold, though he cautioned the number could be conservative. Those sales figures assume smartphone penetration among Verizon's customer base will grow from 26 percent in 2010 to 40 percent in calendar year 2011.

The analyst also sees Apple surpassing Google Android's smartphone share on the Verizon network in 2011. He has forecast the iPhone to represent 40 percent of smartphone sales on Verizon, versus 37 percent for Android.

Worldwide, Abramsky believes Apple will sell 75 million iPhones in 2011, resulting in 58 percent year over year growth. At between 9 million and 10 million units, Verizon would account for between 12 percent and 13 percent of global iPhone sales in calendar 2011.

Following Apple's announcement of its record first fiscal quarter last month, RBC Capital Markets increased its 12-month price target for AAPL stock to $425, from $395. The investment firm believes Apple will reach $99 billion in revenue in its 2011 fiscal year, with a total of $23.30 earnings per share.