Opinion: Five reasons Apple’s rumored ambitions of 90M iPhone 6S sales may be a tough target


The iPhone 6 was the iPhone many had long been waiting for, offering a larger screen size and NFC support for Apple Pay. Unsurprisingly, it opened to record sales, and has continued to break sales records ever since.

But Apple’s ‘tick tock’ strategy –a major new iPhone one year and an updated model based on the same form factor the following year – means that the company has to work much harder to sell its S models. With little visual difference (and the average mass-market customer oblivious to processor upgrades), Apple has to rely on a headline new feature to persuade people that it’s worth the upgrade.

For the last couple of S models, Apple has offered pretty convincing reasons to buy: the 4S gave us Siri, and the 5s introduced Touch ID – both appealing features that were easy for non-tech customers to understand. But if the rumors are correct that Force Touch is the headline new feature of the iPhone 6S, this is one of five reasons I think the company’s rumored ambition to make 90M units by the end of the year could be a tough number to turn into sales … 

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1. The headline features we know about are mostly techy ones

Force Touch is a very nice thing. It works really well on the Apple Watch, and I can see definite potential for it on the iPhone. It’s effectively the Magic Trackpad for the iPhone, allowing easier and more intuitive access to particular iOS features. If you’re a power user, I think Force Touch on the iPhone will be a pretty big deal – and potentially enough reason to upgrade.

But not, I think, for the average user. ‘Will make it easier to use iOS’ isn’t much of a sell when viewed alongside ‘Talk to your iPhone’ and ‘Unlock your iPhone with your fingerprint.’

Same thing with the much faster LTE chip: techies will love it (assuming carriers support it), but ‘somewhat faster Internet access’ doesn’t have the same draw to the person on the street.


2. The existing iPhone camera is already excellent – and Apple shouted about it

The rumor mill does also suggest that both front and rear cameras are in line for an upgrade, the rear camera rumored to be 12MP. But there’s one big snag in Apple touting a better camera as a reason to upgrade: it’s been using billboards, its website homepage, videos and TV ads to tell us how good the existing iPhone 6 camera is. It can’t really turn round so quickly to tell us that camera is already outdated.

And even if it did, conversations with my non-tech friends tell me Apple’s ad campaign worked. iPhone 6 owners see the existing camera as more than good enough; an upgraded one isn’t going to be reason enough to upgrade (not even photography fans, as they know that more pixels does not equal better image quality).


3. The cost of an upgrade is now more visible

For many years, most iPhone owners thought their shiny new iPhone cost only $100 or $200 – as that was the amount their carrier asked them to hand over to upgrade. They didn’t appreciate that they were really paying (in the case of the iPhone 6) anything from $649 to $849, as the balance of the handset cost was hidden within the monthly tariff they contracted to pay for 1-2 years.

But this is changing. T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon have all switched to much more transparent tariffs, separating out the cost of the phone from the cost of the call/text/data service. The true total cost of the iPhone is now much more visible – something that is likely to give people pause for thought, wondering whether an upgrade is really worth the cost.


4. The iPhone 6 still feels like ‘the new iPhone’

When Apple increased the size of the iPhone, that was such a big deal that non-tech consumers today still think of it as ‘the new iPhone.’ Within minimal external changes expected, the average person isn’t going to see an iPhone 6S as notably newer than the iPhone 6.

A new color – either rose gold or some shade of pink – will help, of course. Many people opted for the gold iPhone 5S simply because it was the most visibly ‘new’ iPhone. The same will doubtless happen again with the iPhone 6S. But a meaningful headline feature (the fingerprint reader) plus a new color is a bigger draw than a new color alone.


5. Potential Android switchers have less reason to switch

Tim Cook said that the iPhone 6 had been a big hit with former Android owners, persuading them to switch platforms. But that’s not a huge surprise: there were many Android users who preferred the look of iPhones but weren’t willing to give up their larger screen sizes. The iPhone 6/Plus changed that.

But things are different today. Sure, we’d all argue that iOS and the Apple ecosystem are reasons enough to make the switch, but for mass-market consumers more interested in design than operating system, there are some very stylish Android handsets out there for a lot less money. The OnePlus 2 and Moto G are two examples that spring immediately to mind.


Don’t misunderstand me: the iPhone 6 is clearly on a roll, and I’d expect the 6S to maintain that momentum – with the usual boost in sales during the holiday season. I’m not in any way suggesting it will be a flop. But I do wonder whether Apple is giving owners enough reason to upgrade to generate yet another sales record?

If you have an iPhone 6, are you planning an upgrade to the 6S? And if you have an older iPhone, will the 6S persuade you to make the jump to the latest model even though the iPhone 6 didn’t? As ever, please take part in our poll and let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Images: Top gdgts.de; Force Touch retinaboys.com; bottom image mashable.com; others Apple or 9to5Mac

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  1. rnc - 8 years ago

    LOL: betting against Apple…

    • chrisl84 - 8 years ago

      LOL: worshing their every move

      • chrisl84 - 8 years ago


      • Nope, just being studious and looking carefully at historical data while deriving an informed hypothesis – something sorely lacking in this article. The 6S will do well and will bring more to the table than the Siri software feature and minor speed bump found on the 4S (which itself broke all sales records for Apple).

      • rnc - 8 years ago

        1. The headline features we know about are mostly techy ones

        64 bit processor. Apple does what Android doesn’t.

        2. The existing iPhone camera is already excellent – and Apple shouted about it

        Same 8 megapixels, no addition of any relevant element besides dual tone flash.

        3. The cost of an upgrade is now more visible

        But more users that know what Apple is, and Apple’s costumers satisfaction and loyalty are what Apple is good at. That brings a lot of users wanting an upgrade.

        Plus, expansion to India, Middle East and the Arabic world.

        4. The iPhone 6 still feels like ‘the new iPhone’

        If you want something visibly new, buy an Apple Watch!

        5. Potential Android switchers have less reason to switch

        Citing a Galaxy S6 for style, that, would be reasonable.

        Now, a plastic One Plus Two (that you can’t get from a carrier, or just go to a store and simply buy one), or a Moto G? Okay…


        Result you ask?

        iPhone 5S beat iPhone 5 sales

        I wouldn’t say that iPhone 6S will sell 90M phones, that’s obvious Wall Street manipulation. “Apple sells X, didn’t beat analysts projections, sell your stock, so we can buy it cheap”

      • Ben Lovejoy - 8 years ago

        “iPhone 5S beat iPhone 5 sales”

        Touch ID aka “unlock your iPhone with your fingerprint” was the big deal for mass-market consumers, not the CPU.

  2. Clem - 8 years ago

    I plan to give my iP6 to my partner, adding her to my plan, then get a 6S for me. Verizon is now changing their plan to similar plans from AT&T and Sprint. This will give me pause, no doubt. I expect this will cause my monthly charge to increase dramatically. I will check it out closely.

    • applegetridofsimandjack - 8 years ago

      When I do this to my family members (giving them the device of the generation just before the newest one like you) they say ‘oh so I get all the old cräp that nobody needs anymore?

      Of course they’rz joking but still…

  3. xprmntr - 8 years ago

    I think they’ll tout longer battery life too, possibly with an anti glare screen like the air 2

    • applegetridofsimandjack - 8 years ago

      When has Apple ever added battery life to an iPhone? Yeah you may look at Apple’s list of battery life using 3G, wifi, video but that’s barely noticeable. The last time they made a noticeable upgrade to an iPhone battery was the iPhone 4 I think. I don’t know how your experience was with the iPhone 4’s battery life but compared to the 3GS’s battery life, I felt the iPhone 4 had improved dramatically.

      I think that even if Apple could improve the battery life of the iPhone 6S considerably compared to the iPhone 6’s battery life (which I think is impossible), they wouldn’t do it.
      I know it sounds crazy but I know they wouldn’t do it because imagine if they would and they get like 25% better battery life. This means that the iPhone 7 will also need to have such awesome battery life. And Apple wants to make every redesigned iPhone thinner than the previous one. And so Apple will thin out every iPhone prototype until they have the usual 1-day battery life we are all used to today remaining.

  4. applegetridofsimandjack - 8 years ago

    The iPhone seriously needs a RAM upgrade. More ram is more important to me than ForceTouch. I sometimes have just 2 tabs open, and even if I stay in Safari and switch back to the other tab I opened a second earlier, the page will get refreshed… So annoying and pathetic. Apple, on purpose did not put 2GB of ram inside the iPhone 6 because they knew that they would need a ram upgrade on the 6S to make the upgrade from a 6 or 6 Plus to the 6S pr 6S Plus.

    • applegetridofsimandjack - 8 years ago

      Using an iPhone 6 64GB by the way. Not upgrading because I’m not falling in Apple’s trap of purposefully not putting 2GB in the 6.

    • tmrjij718 - 8 years ago

      My tabs don’t do that. On iPhone 6. I’m pretty this is a software issue as I seen even some iPad Air 2 users complain about this.

      • applegetridofsimandjack - 8 years ago

        Really? I do not have this issue on iPad Air 2. I can have up to 9-10 tabs open simultaneously without 1 of those having to refresh.

        It’s only ony iPhone 6, iPhone 5 and iPad 4 that I’m having this issue. And those all have 1GB of ram…

      • bhayes444 - 8 years ago

        It really just depends on the sites visited. On my Mini 2 (A7 1GB of RAM) I had tab reloads while switching between MacRumors, 9to5Mac, and TouchArcade pretty regularly. Ony newer Air 2 this does not happen at all. The software and hardware are both to blame in this scenario.

    • epicflyingcat - 8 years ago

      But that won’t sell iPhones except among the very techy crowd. Apple itself I don’t think has ever talked about the RAM on an iOS device, for example.

      • applegetridofsimandjack - 8 years ago

        I think that every person who considers upgrading from a newly designed iPhone (iPhone 4, iPhone 5, iPhone 6,…) to an ‘S iPhone’) knows enough about technology. And I believe Apple did not put 2GB of ram on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus so they could upgrade the ram in the 6S and 6S Plus so people will have another reason to upgrade. Because for some, Force Touch and a faster processor won’t cut it.

        Just think for a second. Apple upgraded the ram on iPhones each year before the 4s, after the 4s they started upgrading the ram every 2 years. Also, the iPad Air 2 which also uses the A8 chip (ok A8X) does have 2GB of ram, so why doesn’t the iPhone 6 have the same amount of memory.

        You can also use iPad Air 2 as an example. Apple didn’t upgrade the ram from iPad 4 to iPad Air (iPad Air wa/ the third consecutive iPad with just 1GB of ram so it was kinda time for an upgrade) because Apple wanted an extra reason to make people upgrade from the Air 1 to the Air 2. Because Touch ID, better camera and a faster CPU are not enough to make sure people will upgrade from the Air. the camera upgrade barely counts because most people don’t even use it on their iPads.

    • mikhailt - 8 years ago

      RAM isn’t the sole reason for the Safari tab issue, that’s mainly on Apple’s software team who can’t optimize Mobile Safari properly on iOS, especially when you consider iOS doesn’t really have a big paging store (why shitty laptops with 512mb of ram and weaker CPU than iPhone 4S can store more tabs without any issues).

      We already know from iOS 7 experience that Mobile Safari leaks very badly and that causes the tabs to refresh more often. Apple improved it in the followup iOS 7.1 update and a little bit more with iOS 9. No improvements for iOS 8 from what I can see. iOS 9 definitely shows some improvements for me, I can add 2-3 more tabs without any refresh but it still does it on my iPad Air 2 with 2GB of RAM.

      Regardless, adding another 1GB of RAM will give Safari more headroom to leak into but it WILL NOT fix the problem, it simply extends the time before it starts refreshing it.

      • applegetridofsimandjack - 8 years ago

        I know a lot about tech. But I don’t want to pretend I know it all because I don’t. The reason I’m convinced the tabs refresh constantly on iPhone 6 and not on iPad Air 2 is because of the difference in memory (1gb vs 2gb).

        But I believe you, it must also be software because on iOS7 or 6 and older, I could have up to 4 tabs open on my iPhone 5 (1GB ram) without having tabs refresh all the time

        I of course expect Apple will fix those issues (memory leaks). iOS9 will, I think, be the Snow Leopard of iOS, the yearly update with the big stability improvements.

        Because, let’s be honest, not being able to open 2 tabs at a time without having them constantly refreshed when switching tabs is unacceptable for such a device.

      • mikhailt - 8 years ago

        No one is disagreeing with you on that 2GB will help. I just think Apple needs to go at this from multiple aspects, not just throw more RAM at it and ignore the core problem.

        There shouldn’t be a “Snow Leopard” release every 5 years, it should be a focus every year. Don’t add shitty half-arsed features, fix it first, make it fully implemented and optimized and then release it to the public and stop treating the public as a beta test group.

    • taoprophet420 - 8 years ago

      I have never had a ram issue with my 6 plus. I had daily crashes on my iPad Air and was happy I was on the Next plan so could update to the Air 2. I think the Safari problem is more of a software issue then a hardware issue. On the iOS 9 betas I no longer get random images from previous page loads when I open Safari.

  5. Simon Potts (@simoncbp) - 8 years ago

    What if they were to introduce wireless charging? OK the metal back is a problem but a slightly different back would answer that problem and of course the 3GS had a fatter back than the 3G, setting a precedent for a different backed S iteration.

    • applegetridofsimandjack - 8 years ago

      Apple will only do wireless charging when the technology will be advanced enough so that you won’t need to add some kind of case to the device or having to put it on some kind of charging platform. Apple wants to eliminate the problem of the user having to think about charging his device. By adding a case and/or having to put the device on a charging platform, or making the device thicker are not options for Apple because the first option does not solve the problem, because you still have to think of putting it for charge.

      Sure adding 1mm of thickness to accommodate the hardware needed for wireless charging would be acceptable to Apple, but more than that? Don’t see it. And if they were ok with this, I think you would still need that charging platform…

      I think the most thickness Apple ever added to a device was the iPad 3 which was 0.6mm thicker than the iPad 2 if I remember correctly.

  6. Robert Dupuy - 8 years ago

    The faster processor and greater memory for the base configuration, would be the things that tempt me to go with a 6s over my 6 model.

    For my daughter, still on an iPhone 4S – the smaller screen is important.

    If they had release a 4″ phone beside the other two models – not as a cheap phone, but as a premium phone with a smaller screen, would have sold a lot. Right now Apple is making the 4″…or really 3.5″ … phone fans be second class citizens with older models – that’s not the tempting buy that releasing a new model as a flagship would be.

    I’m not sure how that escapes Apple’s attention, quite frankly. It seems to me that they get weird categories in their head sometimes….

    oh well…

    I think because they are asking some of their fans to hold out for another year – they are reducing their chances of hitting the big #s.

    • Igor Magnani - 8 years ago

      I didn’t upgrade to the 6 because of the bigger screen size. I don’t like not being able to reach the upper left corner with my thumb. My eyes ar fine, I don’t need a bigger screen, I need it to be comfortable enough to operate single handed and small enough to fit well (easy in / easy out) on my jeans front pocket. So I’d definitely buy a 4″ iPhone 6S. Unfortunately I don’t think they will ever do that because they need that extra space for battery. = (

  7. Paul Van Obberghen - 8 years ago

    There is one good reason for more pixels for the iSight camera: zooming. The iPhone may have an excellent camera (lens, sensor and processor), but, as all smartphone, it does not have an optical zoom. It takes great pictures as long as you take pictures that fit with the (very) wide-angle that the built-in optical lens is, and it is fixed at that focal length. Zooming is currently done by cropping the image, not changing the focal length, what an actual optical zoom would do. Hence, the more you zoom in the more you loose in pixel count and image quality degrades rapidely. At 12 MP it would be 50% more pixels than currently and that will do a lot for the quality of zoomed-in pictures.
    But Apple could do better, and find a way to squeeze an actual optical zoom into such a small form factor. That would certainly be a technological breaktrough, and, to my knowledge, a première. But I doubt it would come with the 6S.
    Yet, it is understandable that this – more pixels – wont be a primary concern for switching. Especially not from a 6.

  8. one thing to note in regards to the Android switch and the appeal of the One Plus 2 and Moto G. You have to think about it in terms of the normal user.
    First there is the brand appeal of Apple working for it.
    Then there’s the fact that although the One+2 might be great, it’s not marketed like the iPhone and only Techo people know about it. Not to mention there isn’t a strong sales channel.
    Lastly, as a sales manager at a cell store, I’d rather my team sell an expensive phone rather than a budget Motorola. Plus, the way they sell you the phones with the interest free loans (basically), it almost doesn’t matter.

  9. Michelle Steiner - 8 years ago

    I wonder how many iPhone 6 and 6Plus owners who are planning to upgrade to the “S” models will change sizes—going from 4.7 to 5.5 or vice versa.

  10. Chad Mark (@ChadsFault) - 8 years ago

    There’s one serious flaw in this analysis. Apple doesn’t publicly breakdown the composition of iPhone sales. If Apple is expecting to a announce another record launch, they will be announcing the combined sales of iPhone models. Remember the iPhone 5s launch? Apple selected the wrong balance of 5s vs 5c sales, but had a record quarter. It seems silly to discuss what Apples rumored sales targets are for a single iPhone model when we’ll only ever get rumors about what they actually were. The only way we’ll know if the rumor is true is if we believe another rumor to be true.

    Moving on, for most products, the midrange sells more units than the high end. This is already the case with Android, and it will eventually happen with Apple. Apple expected this with the 5c, but perhaps they were a generation off and we’ll see this with the 6c (if they release that). This whole post provides reasons why the iPhone 6/6c should sell extremely well following a price drop. The iPhone 6s combined with a lower priced iPhone 6 should sell really well, and that is going to be the number Apple announces…

    • Ben Lovejoy - 8 years ago

      We won’t know the breakdown, it’s true, but we’ll know whether we see the kind of sales bump that ambition would require.

    • Matt Russell - 8 years ago

      I do expect though, that if a 6C is announced, the 4.7” 6 will get discontinued so that neither of them cannibalize sales. The 6 Plus is probably gonna be discontinued no matter what, as it won’t really fit in with the lineup as it will get either outsold again by the cheaper 6 or cannibalize the 6S’ sales.

  11. Luis Alejandro Masanti - 8 years ago

    I think that rnc and a lot of other posters nailed it!

    With all due respect, it would be wiser to reverse the question: Accept that Apple knows that it will sell 90M and ask yourself: What they will put on the 6s&6+s to sell those quantities?

    Of course, from your point of view it is risky to formulate that question.
    In the way you wrote the article… if Apple wins, who cares about your article; if Apple fails… you were right!

    But speculation is speculation in any direction… And we all love to speculate about Apple!

  12. craigschnur - 8 years ago

    The biggest reason is the changes carriers have made. :-(

    Verizon had already told me that my Edge plan would change if I wanted to upgrade to the 6s Plus (upgraded last September when iPhone 6’s originally came out) and that I would have to pay off the 6s Plus 100% before upgrading again. I had wanted to upgrade to the 6s Plus and then the 7 Plus next year…

    Now verizon is making you do a straight 2 year financing of the phones or pay all of it up front (128gb iPhone 6 was $949 retail).

    I will be waiting until NEXT year after paying my 6 Plus off and financing the iPhone 7 Plus.

  13. macnificentseven48 - 8 years ago

    “Apple’s rumored ambitions…” What kind of crap nonsense is that to base anything on. If no one from Apple came out and specifically gave projected sales numbers about the iPhone 6S this article isn’t worth spit. I really get sick reading articles based on sales rumors. Why not simply write an article about the iPhone 6s upgrades and leave out projected sales? Apple will sell whatever they can sell. Apple will improve the model and put it out there but they can’t force consumers to buy something they might not even need or want. 90 million iPhones does seem like a tough target but it also may be unrealistic and certainly unlikely if Apple didn’t say they were shooting for 90 million iPhone 6s sales by the end of the year. iPhones aren’t cheap like hamburgers to be throwing around such high sales numbers. Even Samsung only gives shipped numbers. It seems like all that matters nowadays is how many units can be sold. Isn’t anything else important about products other than sales numbers. Wall Street is screwing everything up for consumers.

    • Chris Cooper (@clcooper) - 8 years ago

      “I really get sick reading articles based on sales rumors.” — then don’t read them. There are a lot of other interesting articles on this site and others.
      “It seems like all that matters nowadays is how many units can be sold.” – no, thats always been all that matters from the beginning of when stores sold merchandise. Whether it was modelT ford’s, VCR’s, boeing jets, Tesla’s or iPhone’ss – the purpose of any business is to sell units of whatever they are selling. So its not a new concept by any stretch. Economies moved past a barter society a long time ago.

      • Paul Van Obberghen - 8 years ago

        “the purpose of any business is to sell units of whatever they are selling” Not exactly. It’s about the margin or profit that the sell produces. Apple may sell twice as less units as another brand with an equivalent product but if it makes four times the profit, the winner is Apple. Apple has high margins on high-end products while about all others have tiny margins on middle-end or low-end products. They may sell alot more units than Apple and still be far from the profits Apple is making. So, it’s about the margin, not the number of units.

    • taoprophet420 - 8 years ago

      Last year the target was 80 million, 90 million isn’t that big of increase and the 90 million is the top of the 80-90 million units projected this year. Tim said only 20% of users had upgraded to the 6 so is still plenty of people who will be looking to,upgrade.

  14. Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 8 years ago

    Apple has typically had increased sales with each new model, it’s just a matter of how big the increase in sales was. I feel their biggest hurdle is going to be on the production side vs the demand side. How many people still have a 5S or older? Those people would be definite targets for the upgrade. Yes, there are always some Android users that will switch, but they haven’t reached as many as that are potentially out there since there are a lot on 2 year contracts.

    I think Apple’s biggest problems initially has always been with production not demand. When Apple doesn’t have lines out of the door when they announce a new product, then I would start worrying. So even with their pre-registration, they still have lines that lasted several months. Remember, Apple’s building more Apple Stores and everytime they open up a new store, they start reaching out to new customers.

    The hurdle is going to be production, not demand.

    • Paul Van Obberghen - 8 years ago

      I don’t think Apple has production problems. They are simply very very cautious starting mass production of a new product (even an upgrade) and they are right about that. One, demand is always uncertain at start and the product may be a flop or not do as well as expected, how unlikely this might seem to be about an iPhone. So, better have long waiting lists than shelves full of unsold units (Surface? Anyone?). They always can ramp-up production when success is assured. If rumors of plumetting Watch sales are verified, I bet Apple is now happy not to have produced millions of units that will not find a buyer. Second, there might be a major design flaw that went undetected in pre-production that will only come out when mass produced and sold by the million (remember Antenna-gate, bend-gate?). Better recall, replace or fix the smallest amount of units possible.
      When Apple says it can’t produces enough to face demand at start, I don’t believe it. That’s a deliberate, and I’d say, wise decision. One that they wouldn’t advertize of course, but one that is very important for the shareholders. They are quite bold in design and very cautious in production, and that’s good business. Me think…

  15. Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 8 years ago

    Here’s the breakdown of the different types of customers that Apple’s always going after.

    1. Switchers. What percentage of other platform users have switched or plan on switching? They didn’t get 100% of the people that have been planning on switching back to Apple, they got a lot, but not near 100%.
    2. Previous owners of iPhones that are at least 2 models old. How many people have 5S’s/5C’s and older? I think a large portion of those people will upgrade.
    3. Current 6/6+ users. A lot of Apple users simply upgrade yearly. What percentage of iPhone users upgrade yearly? Apple knows those numbers.
    4. New smartphone users. Every year there are always going to be first time smartphone buyers, whether they are coming from a feature phone or just buying their first phone. That drives the overall market growth and Apple knows those percentages. I think it’s probably at a constant 3 to 5% growth rate.

    So as long as Apple doesn’t screw up, they should see an increase, but for the first 4 to 6 months, it hinges on production and for that, they have to get enough components from suppliers, and they have to get increased assembly production. That’s Apple’s biggest concern.

  16. dwisehart - 8 years ago

    I think you are undercounting those of us that decided to wait and see how the iPhone 6 turned out. I always like to wait for at least the second version of any new product, which is also why I do not yet own an Apple Watch, but I expect to in the future.

    Now that the problems have been worked out of the iPhone 6, I think the iPhone 6S will be a good update to my iPhone 5, though I am wondering if I will like the larger screen size. And yes, I did buy the first version of the iPhone 5, but I waited until it had been out for three months and Apple had a chance to release iOS updates for it. Right at the moment I cannot think of what the iPhone 7 might have that is worth waiting for, but I do have features I would like to see in the Apple Watch (replace my Garmin Swim and record heart rate while swimming) and Mac Pro (multiple 5K displays and 14 nm processors).

    Count me in for the iPhone 6s.

    • rahhbriley - 8 years ago

      I was thinking similarly. The 6 sales were fueled by Android switchers. The 6s will be fueled by older iPhone owners.

  17. RJ Graulich - 8 years ago

    Honestly, contrary to what analyst believe, I think it will still be equally successful as the iPhone 6 if not more. I think it will have a hard time, because most old iPhone owners got the iPhone 6 and some Android Users switched, but at the same time, there is still a large amount of older iPhone users, and I bet that Apple will “out of the blue” bring out some crazy new feature, that probably won’t be innovative, but just good enough to get consumers hyped about.. Jut my opinion

  18. charismatron - 8 years ago

    Two words: China, India.

    This article is written from the now narrow perspective of existing markets and how they respond to S-series iPhones.
    That’s over. Apple is swarming China and plotting to do the same in India.

    90 million won’t be a problem, particularly factoring in the buy-up from existing users.

  19. rahhbriley - 8 years ago

    I do not think Apple needs a big headline feature that lures non-techies into upgrading to reach 90M sales for the 6s. A great number of older iPhone owners haven’t upgraded yet and will be ready to for the 6s. Note all the comments the first six months of 6 sales being dominated by switchers.

    Granted that isn’t a statement on what I think the 6s headline feature will be or your other points. I think they’re valid points and can have an impact on consumer psychology. However, I genuinely believe the 6s’s sales can reach 90M on the back of older iPhone owners upgrading.

    One additional note that I think has relevancy to the conversation; there wasn’t any solid indication, until literally a day or two before the announcement, that the 4S would have Siri. I’m not sure what software or non-hardware based features Apple could surprise us with this time, but it’s not impossible. Inspiring myself to troll Patently Apple’s archives from the last 18-24 months…

  20. george1620 - 8 years ago

    With the little that we all know about the next generation iPhone, I totally agree with this. I’m really excited about Force Touch on an iPhone because there are so many times where I feel I can make use of that technology. But when thought about from the perspective of a regular consumer, I don’t think it’s a feature that’s attention grabbing (even though it should be). The iPhone 6/Plus is still selling pretty good and it really does still feel like the ‘new’ iPhone. I hear “new iPhone” all the time, even after close to a year of it being out. I almost wish that Apple would wait it out, but I know that wouldn’t make them look good.
    Also, I was recently thinking about the new carrier plans and I wondered how that would affect customer’s desire to upgrade their iPhones. They’re going to seem a lot more expensive than they did before.

  21. taoprophet420 - 8 years ago

    AT&T still offers subsidies online.

  22. Joseph Condon (@newfguy) - 8 years ago

    The bulk of Apple upgraders will come from users of phones older than 6 and 6 plus. Apple has given stats on this and there is plenty of runway to sell those phones even if no 6 owners upgrade. Also China market continues to grow

  23. incredibilistic - 8 years ago

    All valid points and it makes me question who’s actually driving the ship or if all those new executives Apple’s hired are getting into Tim’s ear forcing him to make decisions he wouldn’t normally make. The Apple Watch launch being their most recent stumble. I get that Angela wants to rebrand the Apple Store as the next Tiffany’s but ’round-the-corner product launches have been a staple of Apple’s brand recognition and market dominance.

    But, and this has nothing to do with the context of the article, if one of you 9to5Mac guys/gals are reading this please use the proper nomenclature of the ‘s’ model. It’s a lowercase ‘s’, not uppercase.

    For clarification I went to Apple’s site and sure enough it said ‘iPhone 5s’ and ‘iPhone 5c’. Both lowercase. If you’re a site dedicated to Apple news you should make sure you’re covering all your bases. My correction is in love so don’t hate me, just appease my borderline psychotic obsessiveness on proper Apple nomenclature.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 8 years ago

      The iPhone 4S was launched with a capital S, the 5s got lower-case and the rumor is the 6S will be back to upper-case, hence my using it here. We will see what actually happens …

  24. borntofeel - 8 years ago

    My 5S is so good that I plan to switch not with the 6S or 7, but with the 7S.

  25. coinaphrase - 8 years ago

    I see clues that Apple is actively researching improvements related to wide color gamut and “true” HDR (not the synthesized HDR used in photos today), so I am looking forward to what they announce in September. So far, this has been under the radar.

  26. Smigit - 8 years ago

    I imagine Apple has factored all that into any estimate. The typical upgrader probably isn’t an iPhone 6 owner however, it’s probably someone on a phone as old as an iPhone 4 up to the 5s, who in many cases may also be due for a contract renewal. So yes, the iPhone 6 camera may be good enough, but the people upgrading probably don’t have that camera, they don’t have NFC and they may not even have LTE support or Touch ID on their phone.

    A lot of people do upgrade each year, I’m one of them, but we’re surely dwarfed by the number of customers who are upgrading when their carrier contacts them as their 24 months is up for renewal, and those customers will likely skip the iPhone 6 outright unless the phone is kept on the market at a discounted price.

  27. dpcom - 8 years ago

    This article misses an important point: Most people do NOT upgrade cell phones yearly. many or even most are on the contracts still, and tons are on 24-month financing deals now. Most people upgrade every two years. Big Apple fans and tech people like me love getting a new iPhone every year and either have family that we can pass along the lightly used 6 to, or know how to get top dollar for it. But we are a minority. Everyone else has to wait until they paid off their old one/are given the upgrade green light by the carrier. This means Apple isn’t counting on very many 6 users upgrading this year. Most 6S buyers are going to be 5S owners, and switchers, and most of them will have bought their last phone 22-28 months before their 6S. That means it doesn’t matter whether it’s incremental from the 6, or revolutionary. Most people can’t afford to do it every 12, but can’t bear to wait 36 months.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      No, the article doesn’t miss that point. If someone pretty much automatically upgrades every two years, then we can discount them from the equation. The question is whether discretionary upgraders – those who compare bang for buck each year – will see sufficient reason to upgrade.

      • Smigit - 7 years ago

        Well the articles title was about the 90 million figure being ambitious. I don’t think people on older devices can be discredited because you can’t assume people will a) not just go off contract in places where that is offered or b) won’t migrate to Android. Those that upgrade based on a contract cycle can’t instantly be assumed to be a sale, particularly if a new mobile model gets bad press.

        There’s also sales from people that aren’t on an iPhone currently, but are considering one for their next device.

        I think just as important a question would be what percentage of discretionary upgraders does Apple even need to sway to hit those targets?

      • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

        The point is there is a certain number of people with a fixed upgrade cycle. They are not the people who determine whether or not sales increase. The people who matter are the people who make an active decision – the same way that swing/new voters are the people who determine the outcome of an election.

  28. iluvappleblog - 7 years ago

    I think this article is a bit premature, shouldn’t you have waited for the 6s to be revealed first?


Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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