Mike Walkley, an analyst with Canaccord Genuity, now says that Apple may sell more than 50 million iPhones in the first quarter that the new iPhone goes on sale if it is a major redesign.
"We believe global demand for a new iPhone 5 could exceed our December quarter 50M unit estimate due to Apple’s expanding distribution base and large installed customer base," Walkley wrote in a research note via Barron's.
Walkey argues that if the next iPhone has a larger screen (as it's rumored to) or other significant structural changes, then Apple's customer base will flock to buy the new device even if they have to incur early termination fees as a result. This, combined with the new countries Apple now markets to, should boost iPhone sales.
Walkey isn't the only one expecting blockbuster sales. Last month, noted Apple analyst Gene Munster estimated that iPhone sales would hit 50 million in the fourth quarter of this year for similar reasons. To put that in perspective, Apple sold 37 million iPhones in total during the same quarter of 2011.