Ever since Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007, the company’s smartphone business has only known one way: up. In less than ten years, the iPhone has grown from zero to $150+ billion in annual sales, an achievement that is probably unprecedented in corporate history.
But every fairy tale growth story must come to an end eventually and, according to a research note published by Morgan Stanley analysts, 2016 may be the year for the iPhone. The bank expects Apple to sell 218 million iPhones in fiscal 2016, which would be equivalent to a 5.7 percent drop compared to the fiscal year that ended in September.
The analysts quote maturing smartphone penetration and higher prices in international markets as possible reasons for the anticipated first-ever decline in iPhone sales but there is one more reason that may be just as important: Apple’s fiscal year 2015 with the long-awaited launch of the large-screen iPhone 6 and 6 Plus was simply too good to be repeated. Should Apple sell 218 million iPhones this year, it would still be a very successful year but it probably wouldn’t be enough to satisfy the company’s shareholders who have come to expect another record year after year.
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