iPhone 7 rumor rollup: Apple’s going to build a bazillion iPhones, but how many will be bought?

This week, you can almost hear the production lines spinning into action in China, churning out iPhone-related rumors and titillation. Here’s the past few days’ worth of intrigue about Apple’s next-generation device.

So many iPhones

Like we talked about last time around, the word is that Apple’s planning to try and avoid the supply chain problems that it ran into with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus – this time, more anonymous sources have told the Wall Street Journal that the company wants more than 85 million units built by the end of the year. Last time around, Apple only ordered 70 to 80 million in its initial production run.

According to the Journal, whose article can be read here, Foxconn is already hiring workers in anticipation of the production lines opening next month, and Apple is even considering the possibility of a third manufacturing partner joining Foxconn and Pegatron in the iPhone-making team.

Broadening the manufacturing base and ordering a bigger initial run both bode well for availability, and could even lessen the impact if there’s a production problem at one of the contractors. (Say, for example, if this latest model is also highly bendable.) But it could also complicate the supply chain in new and different ways, if Apple really is planning to use all three companies at once.

Let the good times stop

The halcyon days of Apple dominating markets high and low may be coming to a close as the iPhone 7 comes out, according to Deutsche Bank analyst Sherri Scribner. In a research note, she said that iPhone sales have likely peaked, thanks to an increasingly saturated smartphone market, in which Apple has been outperforming the industry average for too long.

Scribner’s arguments about saturation at the high end of the smartphone market and slowing sales growth in general could mean that the iPhone 7 faces the toughest market conditions of any iPhone release in years.

Scribner is, by analyst standards, something of an Apple skeptic, and Apple’s sales have survived much direr predictions in the past. But she correctly predicted that the Apple Watch would be something of a flop (at least, it appears that way, based on some market estimates and Apple’s refusal to release sales numbers for the device), so she might well be on to something here.

An Apple-shaped charging port?

Details of a 2013 patent application got Business Insider excited earlier this week, with its description of “concealed electrical connectors” conjuring up the possibility of the Apple logo on the back of an iPhone being used to charge the battery, eliminating the need for a physical charging port. (The article is  here.)

There’s obviously nothing to suggest that this technology will make it into the iPhone 6S or even the iPhone 7, but Apple’s Android competitors have been playing in the wireless charging space for some time – even if that’s not exactly what this technology promises, it does show that Apple’s got something in mind.

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