iPhone 5 Tsunami! Apple to Sell $144 Billion of Them, Analyst Says

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If Craig Berger's numbers are to be believed, the next iteration of Apple's game-changing mobile device -- commonly (though not officially) known as the iPhone 5 -- will blow its predecessors out of the water.

Berger is an analyst from FBR Capital Markets who usually focuses on chipmakers (and Apple suppliers) such as Qualcomm. Now he has released his iPhone 5 sales estimates in a research note to investors -- and characterized them as "a tsunami."

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He says the device should sell 250 million units over its lifetime, for a total of $144 billion in revenue.

To put that in perspective, $50 billion is how much revenue Apple made from all the iPhones sold so far in the U.S., according to information released in the Apple-Samsung trial -- and that's over the lifetime of five different models since 2007.

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Why so bullish? Two words: upgrades and China.

To get to those numbers, Berger predicts a significant chunk of iPhone users will upgrade no matter what phone they're currently using. Even those with an iPhone 4S, with a year left on their contracts before they can buy another carrier-subsidized phone, will eat the cost of a 5 -- because they just won't be able to resist it.

That's a risky prediction for a device about which not a single new feature is confirmed. But Berger is convinced the company will sell about 25% more iPhone 5s in the next year than it did iPhone 4Ss in the last 12 months, leading to what he calls "one of the largest single product opportunities in Apple's history."

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Meanwhile Berger is equally confident Apple can close the deal with China Mobile, the world's single largest carrier, from which the iPhone is currently absent. (You can get it only on the carrier's much smaller rival, China Unicom.)

January 2013 is the date he has pinpointed for that launch, and the analyst estimates sales of 13 million iPhones in China alone in its first six months on China Mobile. (That's actually conservative, compared to this estimate.)

You'd think Tim Cook would cheer a report like this -- but given that it drastically raises expectations for the Cupertino company, Berger's prediction may be more of a curse than a blessing.

At some point, even the fast-growing Apple is not going to be able to outperform expectations. And an expectation that the total sales of the next device are going to nearly triple all U.S. sales of iPhones so far? That might just be the breaking point.

Will the iPhone 5 hit Berger's mark, or underperform? Give us your analysis in the comments.

This story originally published on Mashable here.

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