By Carl Howe
9to5mac.com rumors that it expects Apple to announce sales of 5 million iPhones at Macworld. If that's true, it would put Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) at half of its 2008 sales goal before 2008 even starts. It also means that despite Apple only selling one model of GSM iPhone in four countries with four carrier dedicated carriers, Apple's shipments in this quarter -- around 3.5 million -- will be very close to the 3.9 million Blackberry smartphones Research In Motion shipped in its most recent quarter across more than 100 carriers and 13 product lines (N.B. RIM's quarter ended Dec. 1, while Apple's will end Dec. 31, so the unit shipments are not precisely comparable, since RIM (RIMM) didn't count the holiday shopping season. On the other hand, consumer products only make up only a fraction of RIM's business too).
So what do I take away from this trend? If Apple actually will sell 5 million units by MacWorld AND it keeps up its aggressive deployments AND it makes no serious missteps with new products (like its 3G iPhone), the iPhone could pass the Blackberry to become the best-selling smartphone on the planet in 2008, and possibly the most rapidly adopted phone in the world. Not bad for an entry product in a market that most pundits claimed was impossible for a new manufacturer to enter.
Disclosure: Author is long AAPL.