In the last six months, Apple has committed $8.4 billion to the tooling/equipment category, 21% more than any other two-quarter stretch in the company's history — another data point that may support Dawson's contention that Apple has something new up its sleeve.
Like Baker, Dawson and Thompson, most analysts anticipate a big second half for 2014's iPhone, again assuming that Apple does debut handsets with 4.7-in. or larger displays and, like last year, starts selling the new model(s) late in September.
Brian White of Cantor Fitzgerald, for example, has forecast Apple will sell 37 million iPhones in the third — a 9.5% increase over 2013 — and 57.8 million in the final, fourth quarter, which would represent a 13.2% boost from last year.
China will be key, White said in a note to clients last week after Apple announced the June quarter financials. "We believe Apple has the potential to be one of the major beneficiaries in the smartphone world within China given its relatively new relationship with China Mobile and our expectation of a larger-sized iPhone 6," White wrote.
Apple struck a deal with China Mobile — China's and the world's largest mobile carrier — late last year; the carrier began selling the iPhone in mid-January. The iPhone 6 will be the first model available to China Mobile subscribers at launch.
Brian Marshall of ISI Group was even more bullish than White on the fourth quarter, predicting that Apple will sell 62 million iPhones in the year's last three months, an increase of 21.5% over 2013, when the Cupertino, Calif. company unloaded a single-quarter record of 51 million iPhones.
"If Apple releases new ~5-in. iPhone models in 2014 as expected, this could create a massive upgrade cycle," Marshall told clients Tuesday. "Not only have many in Apple's installed base been waiting for a larger phone, many loyal Apple users who switched to Android for a larger display are likely to return to iPhone as well."
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.