Here are your Apple rumors and AAPL news items for today:
Better: According to a Morgan Stanley (MS) analyst, Apple (AAPL) will ship a record number of iPhones during its second fiscal quarter, MacRumors notes. Katy Huberty predicts that Apple will ship 42 million iPhones in the current quarter, which concludes at the end of March. That would be well above the 37.4 million iPhones Apple shipped during the year-ago quarter. It would also top Wall Street expectations for Apple to ship about 38 million iPhones during the January-March quarter. Huberty cites strong demand for iPhones in most markets. Recent rumors indicate that the pricey flagship iPhone 5s has strongly outsold the cheaper iPhone 5c, which many observers say has failed to meet Apple’s expectations. Earlier this week, however, Apple launched a new 8GB version of the iPhone 5c in selected markets outside the U.S., apparently hoping to attract more budget-conscious consumers looking for a mid-tier smartphone.
Boost: The Chairman of China Mobile (CHL) says that the carrier added 1.34 million 4G subscribers in February, largely thanks to the iPhone, the Wall Street Journal notes. China Mobile finally struck a deal with Apple late last year, adding the iPhone to its new 4G/LTE network in January. The carrier says that about one million new iPhone users subscribed to its service last month. China Mobile is investing heavily in the rollout of its 4G/LTE network and is hoping that adding 4G-compatible smartphones like the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c will help fend off competition from rival carriers. China Mobile Chairman Xi Gouhua said that China Mobile is “happy with the progress” it is making rolling out the new network. Wall Street expects the deal with China Mobile to increase iPhone sales this year by between 15 million and 30 million units.
End of an Era: Minneapolis’ FirstTech is shutting down after more than three decades in business, the Pioneer Press notes. FirstTech — originally known as Team Electronics — was Apple’s first authorized reseller. The firm continued to sell Macs and iOS devices as Apple’s business has evolved, but has been struggling to compete with online and chain-store retailers. In fact, in recent years, FirstTech has been competing with Apple itself — the iPhone-maker now operates five Apple Stores in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. FirstTech will close its doors on Mar. 29 and is now conducting an inventory liquidation sale. The company employs about 75 people.
For more about the company, check out our previous Apple Rumors stories.