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Not very hidden in Apple's Q3 earnings announcement today was a big boost for the iPhone 8. Apple's forward guidance for Q4 2017 -- the period which finishes at the end of September, just days after Apple traditionally launches a new iPhone -- was $49 to 52 billion. Analyst predictions averaged out at $49.1 billion.
The bump in forward guidance over expectations hints very heavily that the iPhone 8 may go on sale in September, just inside the fourth quarter. Now, strong forward guidance doesn't mean for sure that the iPhone 8 is coming this year: it could mean that Apple is predicting a big uptick of people upgrading to the iPhone 7s or 7s Plus, or maybe it's just banking on massive HomePod sales.
Tim Cook gave a cryptic quote to Bloomberg's Emily Chan that does hint at something big coming in September. "We’ve put everything we know into coming up with the guidance...we really like what we see for the beginning of the back-to-school season.”
If the iPhone 8 is a part of that optimistic earnings prediction, it means that the phone will be launched early enough in September to actually make an impact on Apple's revenues. A common prediction among analysts right now is that the iPhone 8 will see a very limited release in September, due to supply shortages, with production only catching up with demand in early 2018. That is cast in doubt by Apple's predictions here.
All things considered, the strong forward guidance is the best news we've had from Apple in months. Although it's not confirmation that the iPhone 8 is definitely coming this fall, it's a very strong indicator that we're going to see something interesting from Apple. It won't pull down $52 billion selling a three-year-old phone design with incremental updates, so unless Apple's entire financial team is deluded, we're going to have something particularly shiny to gawk at come September.
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