As the iPhone 5 is anticipated to be released on Wednesday, JP Morgan chief US economist Michael Feroli estimates sales of Apple's new smartphone could boost the US economy in a quite measurable way. Feroli estimates the iPhone 5 could boost GDP by $3.2 bilion in the fourth quarter, or $12.8 billion at an annual rate, representing a 0.33 percentage point in the annualized rate of GDP growth.
The bottom line: The new iPhone sales could boost GDP by $3.2 billion in the fourth quarter, or $12.8 billion at an annual rate. That is an increase of 0.33 percentage point in the annualized rate of GDP growth. It could be even higher, he says. Even a third of a percentage point would limit the downside risk to J.P. Morgan’s fourth-quarter growth projection of 2%.
Feroli warns that the estimate “seems fairly large, and for that reason should be treated skeptically” but adds: “we think the recent evidence is consistent with this projection.” When the iPhone 4S became widely available last October, he writes, over half of the 0.8% increase in core retail sales came in the categories of online sales and computer and software sales. The two categories together had their largest monthly increase on record. The fourth-quarter sales growth at those stores over the third quarter would have boosted fourth-quarter growth by a tenth to a fifth of a percentage point if due to the iPhone. The iPhone 5 launch will be even bigger than that, he says, making the latest estimate “reasonable.”
Quite startling that one small product can have such a large impact on the economy.