Apple Might Need iPhone 5S Release Date Sooner Than Later

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Apple might want to unveil its next iPhone in June rather than the fall in order to boost sales, at least that’s if you believe the latest forecast from one industry insider.

A handful of potential challenges in 2013 have prompted Steven Milunovich, an analyst with UBS, to lower his global forecast for iPhone and iPad sales next year. He now thinks the Silicon Valley giant will sell 41 million iPhones in the first quarter, then 36 million and 33 million in the following two quarters, respectively, down 5 million from his previous estimates, CNET reported. He believes iPad sales will be 21.7 million, 24.5 million and 20.7 million in quarters one through three, respectively down 2 million. Milunovich’s new Apple stock target price for fiscal 2013 and 2014 is now $700, down from $780. Still, pretty remarkable numbers for just about any company other than Apple.

Milunovich cites several reasons for his forecast change: slower manufacturing rates; a European economy that’s not bouncing back quickly; more industry competition; and the fact that the iPad Mini is cannibalizing sales of Apple’s traditional, pricier iconic tablet.

Calling the debut of a new iPhone the already much-discussed 5S “possible,” the analyst believes wireless giant China Mobile could start selling the device for the first time in Dec. 2013. The iPhone 5 went on sale in that Asian nation on Friday, but only with carriers that already offered the device; and apparently it was a lackluster launch.

Opinions vary on when the 5S what’s expected to be an upgraded, but not fully overhauled version of the device might come out. One report last month pegged it for a June release but that was later pooh-poohed. No comment yet, of course, from Apple.

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