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Apple's iPhone shipments 'likely' to fall below 200M in 2016, insider says

With lower-than-expected demand for the iPhone 6s, a soft iPhone SE launch, and dual-camera designs from competitors expected to beat the 'iPhone 7 Plus' to market, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes iPhone shipments could fall below 200 million units this year.

The KGI Securities analyst, who has a strong track record in predicting Apple's future product plans, made his predictions in a note to investors on Monday, a copy of which was obtained by AppleInsider. In it, he forecast shipments of between 85 million and 95 million iPhone units in the first half of 2016, followed by 105 million to 115 million in the back half of the year.

In all, that means he believes iPhone units will fall between 190 million and 210 million for the full year, and he believes Apple is "likely" to see sales fall on the short end of that prediction, dipping under 200 million.

To put the forecast in perspective, Apple shipped 232 million iPhones in 2015. And most on Wall Street expect Apple to ship between 210 million and 230 million iPhones this year.

Kuo's conservative predictions are led by a trio of factors, most notably that he believes replacement demand for larger displays is slowing down. In addition, the newly launched iPhone SE does not present a new form factor, so he believes it won't appeal to a large number of consumers.

But perhaps the most interesting forecast is related to Apple's upcoming "iPhone 7:" Kuo continues to believe that Apple's anticipated dual-camera iSight array will be exclusive to the larger 5.5-inch "Plus" model. If true, that would mean Apple's more popular 4.7-inch model won't gain the same advanced camera system.

In addition, Kuo said a number of Apple's competitors, including Xiaomi, ZTE and Lenovo, are all planning to launch their own dual-camera smartphone systems, and many of them are expected to beat Apple's "iPhone 7 Plus" to market. If that happens, he believes first impressions of Apple's system could "underwhelm" prospective buyers.

Kuo has a proven track record in predicting Apple's future product plans. Most recently, he was first to peg the $400 to$500 pricing range and all of the hardware specifications for Apple's newly launched iPhone SE, which he expects will see 12 million shipments in 2016.