Pending Ban Won’t Impact iPhone 5S Release, But Could Cost Apple Big Time

The International Trade Commission has banned Apple from exporting the iPhone 4 and the second-generation iPad to the U.S. after ruling that the Silicon Valley giant violated patents belonging to Samsung. The ban covers those devices that can be used on mobile networks run by AT&T and T-Mobile.

Specifically, the ITC says the patent infringement concerns how cellphones transmit data.

Keep in mind that there’s a two-month review before the ban goes into effect, and there’s a good chance that it’ll never happen. President Obama, for one, has the power to overturn it, Bloomberg pointed out.

Considering these models are both a couple of years old, you might not think a ban would have a huge impact, particularly with a new iPhone likely debuting in September. But you might be wrong.

Forbes crunched the numbers and estimated that Apple could lose $1 billion in revenue if the ban takes effect. That’s not a huge number when you consider that iPhones generated nearly $79 billion in sales in the company’s 2012 fiscal year, and iPads were responsible for approximately $31 billion in sales; nonetheless, a billion is still a billion.

Ban or no ban, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty predicts that Apple will ditch the iPhone 4 later this year and replace it with the much-rumored “cheaper iPhone,” which she expects Americans will buy if they don’t care about owning the latest and greatest of the company’s products. That could offset the impact of a ban.

Apple certainly has its hands full. Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Walkley reported on Wednesday that sales of the Samsung Galaxy S4 overtook the iPhone 5 at three of America’s largest wireless operators in May. Samsung is now far and away the global leader in smartphone sales.

Follow senior online managing editor @Craig_Galbraith on Twitter.

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