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Apple Suppliers Drop Clues for Analyst

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Earlier this week at the Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple (AAPL) revealed plans for a newly designed operating system (iOS 7), a brand new Mac Pro desktop computer as well as an upgrade to the MacBook Air plus iTunes Radio streaming service.

What Apple didn’t reveal were plans for an upgraded or new iPhone. But by keeping close tabs on suppliers, Abhey Lamba, senior technology analyst at Mizuho Securities, found iPhone users may be seeing an upgrade come August or September.

Checks with companies like Japan Display, LG Display and Sharp indicate to Lamba that orders for new devices are being placed.

Depending on when the phone is launched in September, Lamba said Apple could ship 35 million to 40 million iPhones in the quarter, which compares with current consensus of 35 million.

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According to Lamba, in the last product cycle, it took about four months to get to production capability of about 15 million to 20 million units per month and this time around the production ramp up for the display has been much faster. He said suppliers should be able to hit the 15 million to 20 million units per month capability in about two months or about half the time it took in the last cycle.

In terms of demand, in the last production cycle, Apple launched the product in 30 countries in the initial wave in September and expanded it to a total of 100 countries by year-end. Lamba expects a similar if not faster rollout of the new product this time around. The company could ship as many as 100 million phones in the second half of 2013 versus 75 million in the second half of 2012.

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In terms of the new product category, Lamba’s supply side checks are not picking up any specific order placements. He said any such product is more likely an early 2014 phenomenon.

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