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Apple's "Second Coming"

Just days away now from the release of Apple's next generation iPhone, the so-called iPhone 3G. And if the first one was dubbed the "Jesus Phone" because of the overwhelming hype, hope and promise of that device, then this new one is quite literally iPhone's "Second Coming."

A customer at an Apple store at Southpark Mall in Charlotte, N.C., examines the new Apple iPhone during the first day of sales for the device, Friday, June 29, 2007. (AP Photo/Jason E. Miczek).
Jason E. Miczek
A customer at an Apple store at Southpark Mall in Charlotte, N.C., examines the new Apple iPhone during the first day of sales for the device, Friday, June 29, 2007. (AP Photo/Jason E. Miczek).

"The new iPhone is significant," says Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies. "It is part of an Apple eco-system of hardware, software and applications and their combination of those three make this the most unique cell phone/smart phone that we have on the market."

And while the hype leading up to Friday's release has been far more subdued among the media so far -- and a far cry from the daily lead-up months in advance for the last one -- the hope and promise are still alive and well among Apple investors and Wall Street analysts.

Take the numbers from Gene Munster at Piper Jaffray, for one. He's probably one of the biggest Apple bulls on the Street, a position that has served him well since the fundamentals of this company have remained so compelling for so long.

He anticipates 12 million iPhones will sell this year; but thanks to the new version, sales should balloon to 45 million next year.

For the first weekend of iPhone 3G sales, Munster expects a staggering 425,000 units sold worldwide for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. For the first two days, which would be an apples to apples comparison to the last launch, Piper sees 380,000 units sold. Still staggering since the first iPhone sold 270,000 units in its first two days.

It's true that iPhone was only sparsely available and that this release will occur in a couple of dozen countries, but that just speaks to Apple's acumen in getting this product out to the world. By the way, Piper anticipates 225,000 units sold in the USA, 75,000 in the United Kingdom, and about 7,000 more in each of the other 18 countries that will sell it.

For the September quarter, the first full quarter of the new iPhone's availability, Piper expects 4.1 million units sold.

Jupiter Research's Michael Gartenberg tells me that "this may be far more important than last year's launch because the iPhone is now moving from a single device to a software platform with lots of developers behind it." He adds, "This is as important a computing platform for Apple in the future as the Mac (operating system) was back in 1984, except arguably it might be more important."

The stakes are huge for Apple , and not with a few million units sold this year or next. But ramping this into a hundred-million unit product, widely available, and some day owning the market the way iPod does in digital entertainment. And maybe, doing with iPhone what Apple couldn't do with Mac. The iPhone revolution is only just beginning.

In an upcoming post, what iPhone's "second coming" will mean for AT&T , Verizon , Research in Motion , Nokia and the rest of the wireless world. Check back soon! And send me your thoughts. I'll post those responses as well.

Questions? Comments? TechCheck@cnbc.com