Apple Set To Break Sales Goal For iPhone, New iPods On The Way

Shares of Apple Inc.’s stock rose nearly 5 percent on Tuesday (August 22), thanks to reports from UBS Investment Research indicated that the company is likely to beat its sales estimate of 730,000 for the Apple iPhone.

According to Apple Insider, the research included inquiries at several Apple retail stores and 70 AT&T stores across the country to find out the demand for the iPhone, availability and problems customers may be having.

“Discussions with Apple and AT&T store representatives continue to indicate relatively solid demand for the iPhone despite a significant moderation in excitement and hype from the June 29th launch,” analyst Ben Reitzes told clients in a research note Tuesday.

According to AT&T stores the research group spoke to, iPhone sales have remained solid through mid-August, and that there was an average of three iPhones sold per day at each of AT&T 1,800 retail stores nationwide. That figure would equate to approximately 500,000 units sold over the course of the quarter or about 60 percent of this fiscal fourth quarter estimate of 800,000 units.

“Factoring in hundreds of thousands of iPhones sold through Apple stores and online via Apple.com, we still believe that our unit estimate is conservative,” he told clients. “While Apple has not provided any information into expanded distribution of the iPhone beyond Apple and AT&T stores, we continue to believe Apple may expand distribution to include other retailers over time (Best Buy would make sense).”

The analyst also said he expects Apple to announce its European iPhone strategy, which will initially include just three European countries — the UK, France and Germany.

iPhone shipments for those countries should begin in the December quarter, he said, and expanded to other nations and parts of Asia in 2008.

Also in his note to clients, the UBS analyst said he expects Apple to introduce new iPod video and iPod nano lines sometime next month. Among the expected introductions are higher capacity iPod nanos at aggressive price points, as well as a flash based widescreen video iPod likely using multi-touch technology for less than $300.

“We believe this is an important launch in that it should re-stimulate iPod sales into the holiday season,” he wrote. “In addition, we believe many consumers have been waiting for this upgrade to take place, especially in the video iPod products, as it has been about two years since that line has had a major upgrade.”

Apple investors reacted favorably to the comments, sending shares of the company up nearly 5 percent to $128.70 in early afternoon trading on the Nasdaq stock market.

In related news, Apple has begun selling refurbished iPhones from its online store. The phones can be purchased for $100 off the list price, which may boost the product’s sales with people concerned with the price of the device.

The iPhone certainly isn’t the first product Apple has chosen to sell refurbished. It is currently offering refurbs on a variety of iPods, Apple TV, Cinema Displays, AirPorts, desktops and portable Macs, and even some Xserves.

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