“Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu has been checking with his contacts in Apple’s supply and distribution channels,” Philip Elmer-DeWitt reports for Fortune. Wu is “anticipating sales of 6 million units for the December quarter (Apple’s fiscal 2009 Q1), down from 6.9 million in Q4 but in line with the Street’s expectations of between 5 and 7 million.”
“But that significantly understates actual demand for the iPhone, Wu says, because it doesn’t include the wild card in this holiday season’s iPhone sales: the iPhone gift card,” Elmer-DeWitt reports. “‘We think there is strong reception of AAPL’s new iPhone 3G Gift Card program,’ Wu wrote in a report to clients Wednesday, ‘where the process of giving the iPhone as a gift is greatly simplified without the need for activation and personal information. … We estimate several hundred thousand to one million units could be impacted.'”
Elmer-DeWitt reports, “The good news about these gift cards is that Apple gets to collect the revenue up front, which improves cash flow. The bad news for Apple’s Q1 earnings is that it can’t recognize the sale of an iPhone until the customer activates it.”
Full article here.