While there are plenty of analysts who make predictions about Apple’s future plans, most of them have mixed track records at best when it comes to the accuracy of their predictions. Over the past several years, analysts have made incorrect predictions about everything from Apple TV remote ring accessories to sapphire-covered iPhones, as reported by AppleInsider.
While there are no analysts who can claim to be right 100% of the time, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has earned a reputation as one of the most accurate Apple-focused analysts over the past few years due to several prescient predictions he has made.
Although he had some details wrong about its shape, Kuo was the first analyst to predict that the iPhone 5S would feature a sapphire-covered home button fingerprint scanner in 2013, as noted by 9to5Mac. He also accurately predicted the introduction of a gold-colored iPhone before the widely publicized leaks of gold casings emerged online.
In a research note issued in April 2014 and obtained by 9to5Mac, Kuo predicted that the Apple Watch (at the time referred to as the “iWatch”) would be produced in two different sizes and that the casing and band would be available in various materials. In the same note, Kuo also correctly forecast the sizes of the latest iPhone models, the inclusion of an NFC chip, and a repositioned power button.
Because of his impressive track record, Kuo’s predictions on Apple tend to be given a little more weight than many other analysts. Keeping that in mind, here are three major predictions that Kuo made about Apple in his most recent note to investors.
1. Apple Watch will launch in March
According to a research note obtained by AppleInsider, Kuo predicted that the Apple Watch will hit store shelves sometime in March. This timetable aligns with the latest rumors reported by 9to5Mac’s insider sources, as well as information from supply chain sources cited by Taiwan’s DigiTimes technology news site.
Per Kuo, Apple will ship around 2.8 million Apple Watch units in the first quarter. Although most Apple Watch suppliers are expected to produce enough components for 4 million to 5 million units, the analyst noted that the supplies for several key parts may be constrained due to low yields.
Kuo also believes that Apple may reveal additional details about the Apple Watch ahead of its release, including battery life information, reports MacRumors. A recent report from 9to5Mac suggested that Apple is having difficulty meeting the original battery life goals that it set for the Apple Watch. According to 9to5Mac’s sources, Apple was hoping to get 19 hours of mixed usage per charge.
2. New 12-inch MacBook Air will debut in March
Kuo’s research note seen by AppleInsider predicted that the long-rumored 12-inch MacBook Air with Retina display will be released in the first quarter of 2015. The 12-inch MacBook Air is expected to feature many design changes aimed at making it thinner than any of Apple’s previous models, including the elimination of full-sized USB ports, MagSafe connectors, and SD card slots. Apple will instead utilize a USB Type-C port that will handle both connectivity and charging functions for the device.
Quanta Computer — the same company that is supposedly manufacturing the Apple Watch — has already started production on the 12-inch MacBook Air, according to DigiTimes’ sources. That production timeline would appear to align with Kuo’s prediction of a launch date in March. Finally, the rumors of an upcoming 12-inch MacBook Air release were also bolstered by some leaked photos that recently emerged on a Chinese news site.
3. Holiday quarter iPhone sales will surpass expectations
Perhaps the boldest prediction in Kuo’s research note is his iPhone sales number forecast for the last quarter. According to the note obtained by AppleInsider, Kuo believes that Apple sold a record-setting 73 million iPhones during the last three months of 2014. As noted by Business Insider, this is well above the 66-million-unit consensus among analysts.
Per Kuo, the majority of the sales came from the 4.7-inch iPhone 6, with more than 42 million units, while sales of the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus accounted for 16 million units. The rest of the sales were derived from a mix of the iPhone 5S (9 million units), the iPhone 5C (4.2 million units), and the iPhone 4S (1.5 million units).
If Kuo is correct, then Apple will have far surpassed all of its previous quarterly sales records, including the all-time record of 51 million units that it set in the 2013 holiday quarter. In this case, Apple watchers will not have to wait long to find out if Kuo is correct. The company will announce its 2015 first fiscal quarter results on Tuesday.
Follow Nathanael on Twitter @ArnoldEtan_WSCS