Updated from 10:55 a.m. with additional information.
Lines at the Apple Store for the new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are likely to be short on their first day on sale on Friday, but that doesn't mean overall iPhone sales will be weak, according to Gene Munster of Loup Ventures.
The longtime Apple Inc. (AAPL) - Get Report analyst wrote Thursday evening that a survey done by his company of 388 U.S. consumers showed better-than-expected demand for the iPhone 8 and the premium iPhone X, which won't be released until Nov. 3. Among the respondents planning to buy an iPhone in the next 12 months, 25% planned on purchasing an iPhone X and 38% an iPhone 8/8 Plus. Given those numbers, Munster wrote that he expected 64% of iPhones sold in the next year would be one of these newer, costlier models, compared to his current estimate of 45%.
With respect to lines at the Apple Store for the iPhone 8, Munster wrote that he expected them to be less than half as long as what he observed last year, given that demand will be split between the 8/8 Plus and the X, and the fact that more customers are buying their phones online or via Apple's upgrade program.
Munster noted that the line at Apple's flagship New York City store on Fifth Avenue for the newest iPhones have already declined from 1,880 people in 2014 to 650 in 2015 and just 400 last year. But the likely shorter lines won't cause Munster to adjust his estimate that iPhone unit sales growth for this upgrade cycle will be 9%, compared to 3% for Apple's 2017 fiscal year, which ended in September.
At the Fifth Avenue Apple Store this year, TheStreet found a line of about 20 customers mid-day on Friday, a much smaller number than in the past. However, the store is undergoing major renovations, which may be affecting customer traffic. In Hong Kong, a writer for TheStreet reported no lines on Friday when she upgraded her phone to the iPhone 8, and said that seems to have been true across the territory.
Apple shares were down 1.5% to $151.15 on Friday early afternoon, and are down about 6% since Monday on a spate of negative news about the iPhone 8 and the new Apple Watch. Shares are still up about 30% this year, however.
Watch: Get Your First Look at the Futuristic Apple iPhone X.
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