Mike Elgan of Computer World writes: Apple reported record sales, record profits and record revenue Tuesday. The company sold 2.3 million computers, 22.1 million iPods and 2.3 million iPhones in the fourth quarter of 2007.
The most conservative estimate of iPhone sales would make it easily the most successful cell phone launch in history. In its first try, Apple gained 20% of all smart phone sales and clobbered everyone except, of course, Research In Motion, which sold nearly double that percentage. The most likely scenario is that Apple will unveil a new iPhone this summer, or fall at the latest.
This is interesting because to date we have no way to estimate how often Apple plans to refresh the iPhone line with new versions. The iPod Nano is the only Apple player to be refreshed every year like clockwork. The other models vary from 20-month cycles for the Shuffle to the subyear cycles of the Classic.
A new iPhone is likely to offer goodies like 3G, GPS, more software flexibility and fixes for the many small annoyances that some current users complain about.
The only way Apple could possibly feel "confident" of reaching 10 million units by the end of 2008 is if the company were to sell more iPhones during next year's holiday season than it did during the 2007 season. And the only way to do that is to sell to existing users. And the only way to do that is to come out with a new iPhone.