An analyst of Bank of America expects Apple will release a new iPhone with 3G functionality in June:
Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) appears to be targetting a June introduction of the 3G version of the phone, roughly a year after the original iPhone's debut. And similar to last year, Apple seems to be scheduling a limited initial supply to be followed by more phones in the fall quarter.
Observers are split on how to interpret the plans however.
Bank of America analyst, Scott Craig, who put out a research note Friday dissecting the Apple production plans, says the order indicates a significant production increase. If true, this could provide a surprise boost to the company's numbers. BofA expects 8 million iPhones will get sold this year, and if the 3G model is successful, every additional million beyond their projection translates to about $400 million in added sales and 12 cents per share - or 2% - more in profit.
But other analysts familiar with Apple's order patterns say the production reports are typically overestimated by the company, largely to keep component suppliers fully stocked should demand take off. By this reckoning, Apple will probably make about half of the 11 million iPhones the initial production plan calls for. It will probably have about one million 3G phones ready at launch and 4 to 5 million to follow later this year, says one analyst.