Apple Raises Forecasted iPhone Shipments In 1st Quarter

Apple is expecting to ship between 20-21 million iPhones around the world next quarter, with about 25 percent of them being CDMA phones, according to electronics newspaper DigiTimes.

Citing the usual sources from Taiwan-based component suppliers, DigiTimes said Apple bumped up its first-quarter 2011 shipment goal from 19 million to the new amount, telling its component suppliers to get ready to fill that new target.

If accurate, that will be a healthy jump from the 15.5 million units that will have shipped during the fourth quarter, according to estimates. For the entire year, sources say Apple will have shipped 47 million iPhones around the world.

But the most interesting bit of information revealed by DigiTimes focuses on CDMA phones.

Apple is eyeing a shipment target of 5-6 million CDMA iPhones for the first quarter of 2011. Verizon’s network runs on CDMA. Sources say all CDMA phones will ship to North America and Asia Pacific, fueling the fire behind reports calling on Verizon to offer the iPhone in its lineup next quarter.

AT&T, the exclusive provider of the iPhone in the US, runs on GSM technology as does T-Mobile. The CDMA iPhones could run on the Sprint network, however.

CNET emailed Apple for confirmation and comment about the DigiTimes report, but did not immediately receive a response.

Verizon Wireless has yet to confirm the iPhone is coming, but several reports throughout the year indicate that in early 2011, the phone will be available on the nation’s largest carrier. Some reports even say it will be announced next week, possibly at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, when Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg gives a keynote speech.

Getting the iPhone out to Verizon Wireless is a crucial step for its continued success. Android phones are sold by all four major US carriers, and became the second most-popular operating system worldwide, behind Nokia’s Symbian, according to Gartner Research.

Though the rumors of a Verizon iPhone have carried on for a few years, analysts and news sources have tried to give more credence to those claims.

In October, the Wall Street Journal said Apple was preparing to make a CDMA phone.

Fortune soon followed by citing sources who said that a Verizon iPhone was a “fait accompli” (accomplished fact).

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster recently called for Verizon to launch the iPhone midway through the first quarter of next year.

On the Net: