Apple had originally planned to ship 19 million units, but decided to increase the number of WCDMA iPhones, DigiTimes reported Monday, quoting sources within Taiwan-based component suppliers. Rather than ship 13 million WCDMA phones, Apple now plans to ship 14 million to 15 million units. WCDMA is a commonly used air interface standard found in 3G telecommunications networks around the world
Interestingly, Apple's goal for CDMA iPhones is 5 million to 6 million units in the first quarter of 2011. CDMA is the air interface standard used by Verizon Wireless. While Verizon and Apple have yet to make a formal announcement, Verizon is expected by most industry observers to start offering an iPhone in the early months of next year. AT&T, which uses WCDMA, has been the exclusive carrier of the iPhone in the United States for more than three years. CDMA mobile phones are also used in the Asia Pacific region.
Foxconn is the only maker of WCDMA iPhones. Production of the CDMA phones will be split between Foxconn and Pegatron Technology, DigiTimes said. iPhone shipments in the fourth quarter of this year were estimated at 15.5 million units, bringing the total for the year to 47 million units.
The latest numbers are difficult to verify, because Apple won't discuss iPhone shipments until it releases financial results early next year. However, the figures are in line with recent reports from Apple. In October, Apple reported selling 14.1 million iPhones in the quarter ending Sept. 25, a 91% increase over a year ago.
Given that the fourth quarter, which includes the holiday shopping season, is historically higher, Apple could be reasonably expected to hit 15.5 million iPhone shipments. The momentum is certainly behind the company going into the fourth quarter. In the previous period, Apple topped $20 billion in total sales for the first time. For the final quarter of this year, Apple has projected revenue of about $23 billion. The company typically estimates revenue at the low end and routinely beats its own projections.