76 percent of iPhone 4 sales are upgrades, says report

While iPhone 4 customers are absorbing information on every new feature they can, it remains to be seen how many are actual first-time iPhone buyers. Some say that as much as 3 out of every 4 iPhone 4 buyers were upgrading from a previous model.

Bumper mania

According to a report by analyst Gene Munster, “The bottom line: 77% of new iPhone buyers were existing iPhone owners (upgrades), compared to 56% in 2009 and 38% in 2008. Apple is effectively building a recurring revenue stream from a growing base of iPhone users that upgrade to the newest version every year or two.” But is this revenue stream sustainable? Yes, and probably is going nowhere but up in the near future. “Apple is tapping into the global consumer sweet spot, mobile, and as a result iPhone numbers are going higher in the coming years,” Munster said.

From another report by Oppenheimer analyst Yair Reiner, he found that 76% of first-day iPhone buyers where upgrading from a previous iPhone, which they had purchased 14.7 months ago. The first-day iPhone 4 buyers were “inspired by desire rather than need,” Yair noted Friday.

On the carrier side of things, AT&T has potentially less to be happy about. The launch of the iPhone 4 did not bring in near as many carrier ‘switchers’ as before. Instead, 16% of first-day buyers said they were switching to AT&T from another carrier, down from 28% in 2009.

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