Apple services revenue could soar to about $50 billion faster than even CEO Tim Cook lets on: Tech investor Calacanis

  • Calacanis says services will be a "money printing machine," generating important recurring revenue as Apple fights stagnating iPhone sales.
  • According to Calacanis' projections, Apple services revenue is on track to hit Cook's $48 billion goal as soon as the third quarter of next year.

Angel investor Jason Calacanis told CNBC on Wednesday he could see Apple hitting $50 billion in annual software services revenue as soon as a year from now. That would be faster than even CEO Tim Cook predicts.

So far in fiscal 2018, Apple services revenue for its first, second, and third quarters totaled about $27 billion, almost as much as all of fiscal year 2017's nearly $30 billion.

"It is wonderful to see what they are doing in services, and that will become a $50 billion, $60 billion story next year," the CEO of newsletter provider Inside.com said on "Squawk Alley."

Calacanis also said services such as Apple Care and subscriptions like apps and Apple Music will be a "money printing machine," generating important sources of recurring revenue as Apple fights stagnating iPhone sales.

Apple shares surged about 5 percent on Wednesday, with a stock market value approaching $1 trillion, after the company late Tuesday posted big beats on earnings per share and the average iPhone selling price.

Fiscal third quarter services revenue rose 28 percent to $9.55 billion.

On the post-earnings call, Cook reiterated his goal for services revenue. "We feel great about the momentum of our services business, and we're on target to reach our goal of doubling our fiscal 2016 services revenue by 2020.

In fiscal 2016, Apple made about $24 billion from services.

According to Calacanis' projections, Apple services revenue is on track to hit Cook's $48 billion goal as soon as the third quarter of next year.

"If there's a billion of these iOS devices out there and maybe half of the people that have them — two-thirds — participate in the subscription services...you're looking at $40, $50, $60 a year per person," the dotcom entrepreneur said.

That type of consistent revenue would make Apple start to look a lot like another tech behemoth, Amazon, he argued.

"It's starting to look like the Amazon Prime business and that's what we are looking to see Apple do is maybe create their Apple Prime eventually, where they put together a bunch of these services and charge a fee for it," Calacanis said.

"They are taking all the friction out of owning an iPhone," he added.

In a note to clients Wednesday, GBH Insights analyst Dan Ives called the services sector the "main event" of Apple's earnings report.

"Before, the Street wasn't going to give credit to that software services piece. Now you're starting to see that multiple expand and that's really what's key here to the valuation, Ives said in a "Power Lunch" interview.

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