This will shift your thinking on Apple, analyst says

Apple earnings hinge on iPhone 7 sale success

Apple's burgeoning software and services business is set to seriously shift investor thinking, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster told CNBC's "Squawk Alley" on Tuesday.

"We think the services piece is going to be probably the biggest change in terms of how investors think about this," Munster said. "Right now it's 13 percent of revenue. It's just under 25 percent of profits. They announced in September that app downloads grew 106 percent year-over-year... at the end of the day, this is a shift in terms of how people are spending their money on these devices."

Apple is expected to report its quarterly financial report. Wall Street expects earnings of $1.65 per share on revenue of $46.9 billion, according to a Thomson Reuters consensus estimate.

Store employees stand in front of a screen displaying iPhones at an Apple Store in Brooklyn, New York.
Andrew Kelly | Reuters

After reporting double-digit year-over-year declines for the past two quarters, Apple is expected to report after the bell that it shipped 44.8 million iPhones, down from 48.04 million a year ago, according to analysts surveyed by StreetAccount.

While defectors from Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 recall might positively impact sales of the larger iPhone 7 Plus, supply is very tight for that phone, Munster said.

"Apple's having a tough time keeping up with the demand ....Their hands are tied, it's just however much they can make," Munster said.

In the near term, Apple is still an iPhone-centric company, said Toni Sacconaghi, senior technology research analyst at AllianceBernstein.

"Ultimately, over time, the iPhone will plateau. Replacement cycles will elongate ... which means that 75 percent of the business' profits are more likely to go down than go up," Sacconaghi told CNBC's "Fast Money: Halftime Report" on Tuesday. "You have to believe that there's something else that's material that Apple can bring to the marketplace to ultimately make up for that."

While Apple's Watches are "not a big deal," and the Mac should have a "slight positive" impact in December, Apple's services sector is the one to watch, Munster said. Even when Steve Jobs helmed Apple, the company had ambitions to transform services and content like television, former Apple CEO John Sculley told "Squawk Alley" on Tuesday.

"Is [current Apple CEO] Tim Cook capable of leading something that is as big in content as Apple is in its mobile devices and other services? Absolutely," Sculley said. "Now will Apple decide to get into that business? I don't know ... We'll just have to wait and see."

Disclosure: Piper Jaffray was making a market in the securities of Apple at the time this research was published.