Apple orders record number of iPhones ahead of iPhone 6 launch

A line outside the Apple Store in Hong Kong, December 15, 2012. Credit: See Ming Lee via Flickr

With the iPhone 6 launch looming, Apple has reportedly ordered manufacturers to prepare for upwards of 80 million units.

During Apple and Samsung's first California trial, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller explained that the company calls each iPhone a success when sales of the most recent model surpass the cumulative sales of all the preceding models. Impressively, Apple has done this time and time again, and if a recent report from the Wall Street Journal is accurate, it appears that the iPhone growth train won't be stopping anytime soon.

According to the Journal, Apple recently told manufacturers to prepare for what by all accounts will be the most massive and sweeping iPhone launch to date.

The Cupertino, Calif., company is asking suppliers to manufacture between 70 million and 80 million units combined of two large-screen iPhones with 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch displays by Dec. 30, according to people familiar with the matter.

To provide some context, consider this: Apple's initial order of iPhone 5s and 5c devices fell in the 50 to 60 million range. Clearly, Apple is betting big that consumers will be motivated to upgrade to larger screens in droves.

While nothing is a sure bet until Apple officially makes an announcement, it stands to reason that the iPhone 5s will remain available at a discounted price of $99, while the 4.7-inch iPhone will be priced at the standard $199. As for the 5.5-inch iPhone, rumor has it that it may carry a $100 price premium, a price bump that consumers will seemingly have no problem with. In addition to a larger display, some rumors have suggested that the larger-screened iPhone will sport an ultra-scratch-resistant screen along with a 13-megapixel camera from Sony.

Historically, Apple has struggled to keep up with demand when it launches a new iPhone model. Last year, for example, iPhone 5s supply was severely constrained on account of yield issues with respect to the Touch ID sensor. Having said that, with upwards of 80 million iPhones supposedly ordered, it'll be interesting to see if manufacturers will be able to keep up with demand.

As a final point, it's worth pointing out that the timing of the iPhone order report may be a bit fishy. Apple later today will release its earnings report for the quarter gone by, and some cynics have argued that the Journal story was planted to soften the blow from what may be disappointing earnings results. 

Apple will deliver its earnings from its third fiscal quarter of 2014 after the close of trading today.

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