Uh-oh: Apple analysts are predicting zero growth for the iPhone at the end of the year

Some analysts are worried that Apple’s next iPhone won’t be good enough to grow Apple’s iPhone business.

KGI Securities, which is known for making accurate predictions around Apple’s upcoming product announcements, is now forecasting zero or negative growth of iPhone sales in the fourth quarter of 2015. The firm shared its predictions in a new note, which was picked up by Taiwanese blog Apple Daily.

KGI believes Apple is only likely to sell between 65 million and 75 million iPhones in the last quarter of 2015, while it sold 74.5 million in Q4 2014.

Jefferies made similar predictions in its most recent note, downgrading Apple’s price target from $US135 to $US130 due to “uncertainty for iPhone primarily in China.” Jefferies thinks Apple will sell 70 million iPhone units in the December quarter, which is down from previous estimates of 78 million.

KGI thinks the weak economy in China will have an impact on Apple’s iPhone sales in the last quarter of the year. The firm also doesn’t believe Force Touch — which is rumoured to be the marquee feature upgrade in the iPhone 6S — will be enough of a change to make the next iPhone a runaway success like the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were.

Force Touch is a pressure-sensing technology Apple has added to its newer MacBooks and the Apple Watch. It can sense how hard you’re pressing in addition to where you’re pressing and whether you’re tapping and swiping. Multiple reports have cited it as the main characteristic that will distinguish it from the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

The new predictions from KGI and Jefferies reiterate a concern among analysts that we’ve been hearing about for months. Since the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were such blockbuster hits, it will be difficult for Apple to show that its iPhone business is still growing with its next release.

This is especially notable coming from KGI, however, since the firm is known for its accuracy thanks to Ming-chi Kuo — an analyst that’s nailed several details about Apple’s previous products and seems to be really plugged into the company’s supply chain.

This worry also materialised last month when Apple reported that it sold fewer iPhones than analysts had expected, which caused stock to drop despite the fact that the company’s overall earnings numbers were great.

During its earnings call, Apple reiterated the areas in which the iPhone has room to grow, saying that it’s seen the highest rate of switchers from Android to the iPhone this year than it has ever before. It also noted that only a fraction of Apple’s installed base has upgrade to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, leaving a huge opportunity for customers with older models to upgrade.

Despite the unsure attitude toward Apple’s next iPhone, some analysts believe the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will continue to sell well through the end of the year — especially if Apple lowers the prices of these phones.

“It’s a multiyear cycle, and once you come to grips with that I think you’re going to feel better about Apple and what’s happening with the bigger phones here,” Brian White, an analyst with Cantor Fitzgerald, said in a previous interview with Business Insider.

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