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Corporations will flock to iPhone 8 despite lukewarm reviews, predicts Gene Munster

  • Despite a lot of flashy phones to compete with Apple, Gene Munster said sheer numbers will help Apple stay in the game.
  • Our estimates are that the number of active iPhones that are three years old or older is now entering about 300 million units," Munster told CNBC's "Fast Money" on Tuesday. "And most of the Street thinks that this next cycle is going to be about 250 million units. And so, at the point of three years, it's less about the features and some of the reviews."

The reviews for one of Apple's new iPhones, the iPhone 8, are in — and they're pretty lukewarm.

But like a baseball team, Apple might still be able to win by "manufacturing runs," Gene Munster said.

"Our estimates are that the number of active iPhones that are three years old or older is now entering about 300 million units," Munster told CNBC's "Fast Money" on Tuesday. "And most of the Street thinks that this next cycle is going to be about 250 million units. And so, at the point of three years, it's less about the features and some of the reviews, and more about, 'I need my phone to survive and it's just not holding up.' It's not very glamorous — in a baseball term I'd say it's 'manufacturing runs' — but enough to yield the demand to get this to be a nice improvement over the last cycle."

Managing Director & Senior Research Analyst for Piper Jaffray Gene Munster
Brian Ach | LocationWorld 2016 | Getty Images
Managing Director & Senior Research Analyst for Piper Jaffray Gene Munster

As baseball coaches explain, games are won by scoring more runs than the other team, which often simply means keeping the ball in play and taking as many shots as possible.

Munster said Apple's $999 flagship iPhone X might not appeal to cost-conscious buyers, especially corporations looking to supply phones for employees. He estimates the X will only account for about 20% of sales, with the iPhone 8 making up 25% and older models making up the rest. That should be enough to meet Wall Street's shipments expectation, he says.

"We think there will be far less adoption of the most advanced version," Munster said. "Typically, corporate also under-indexes to consumers, because they're usually a little bit tighter on their budget and they want a phone that's been around for a little bit."

Still, Apple faces a tough crowd, as investors have driven the share price higher amid bets on the success of the new iPhones. Any disappointment could cause a short-term pullback of 5 percent to 10 percent in the stock, Munster said, even if Apple's features, like augmented reality, end up standing the test of time.

"We've had 40 analysts who've expected this for a year," Munster said. "I tend to still believe we'll get this pullback. Once we get past the excitement of the pre-orders around the iPhone X, I think there'll be naturally some concern about the March quarter and June quarter look like next year. ... But I think as a company, and their position around services, and where things are going longer-term around AR, I think it's exceptional well-positioned. Despite some of these reviews, it's still the best phone in the world."

WATCH: What reviewers are saying about the iPhone 8