While Apple hasn’t yet announced the iPhone 5 we can estimate its sales without knowing anything about it thanks to a single quote from Apple VP Phil Schiller during the Apple v. Samsung court case.
During the trial Schiller said “each new generation [of iPhones] sold approximately equal to all previous generations combined.” So, theoretically, all we need to know is how many of each iPhone model Apple has sold up to this point, and will sell after the iPhone 5.
Thankfully Asymco did the math and figured out how many new iPhones Apple might sell. Unfortunately, while Apple does announce how many iPhones it sold each quarter, it never discloses how many of each model it sold. The publication assumed that a vast majority of users bought the most recent iPhone, with smaller percentages of users buying the $100 or free options instead.
According to Asymco‘s data, Apple can expect to sell about 170 million iPhone 5 units in the first year, by mid-2013. That’s just 8 million more than the estimated 172 million iPhone 4S sales over that phone’s lifetime. Keep in mind that those numbers might be different than normal as even Apple believes many skipped over the iPhone 4S last quarter to wait for the new iPhone.
Based on sales history, the iPhone 5 could sell as many of 250 million units over its lifetime. That number sounds incredibly high, but we’re also seeing incredibly high interest in the new iPhone. A number of users are currently waiting for the new iPhone before upgrading their phone.
These numbers could be way off, but they’re based on what we assume is an accurate statement from an Apple executive.