(By Balachander) iPhone 5 will drive record Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) smartphone sales in the final three months of 2012, according to research firm IHS Inc. (NYSE:IHS).
The thinnest and lightest smartphone ever will spur Apple's smartphone shipments by 60 percent to 149 million units in 2012.
IHS said Apple's release strategy plays a major role in quarter-on-quarter surge in iPhone sales, as prospective buyers hold off on purchasing during the time leading up to the rollout of the new device.
The new phone will be released with just over a week left in the third quarter, so most of the iPhone 5 sales bump in 2012 will be seen in the final quarter of the year, IHS said.
When combined with normal seasonality, IHS predicts the fourth quarter this year will be Apple's biggest quarter for iPhone sales in history.
Daniel Gleeson, mobile analyst for IHS said iPhone 5 announcement comes as a significant departure from previous models, with a new, larger screen, 4G long term evolution (LTE) connectivity and accelerating data speeds.
The technology behemoth's iPhone 5 features an Apple-designed A6 chip, with speed twice as fast as the previous version. Other features include: the new 4-inch Retina display, while the current version has 3.5-inch display.
iPhone 5 comes with iOS 6, the world's most advanced mobile operating system with over 200 new user features.
"These major improvements will drive strong sales for the iPhone 5," Gleeson said.
Jack Kent, senior analyst for mobile media at IHS said the new iPhone will support old apps via the addition of a ribbon so as to preserve the original aspect ratio.
"While this will maintain the experience, it does fall short of the flawless hardware-software integration that a vertically integrated model like Apple's should provide," Kent said. "However, this should only be a temporary distraction for users as developers update their apps."
iPhone 5, which will be available in the U.S. on September 21, is priced at $199 for the 16GB model and $299 for the 32GB model and $399 for the 64GB model. Customers can pre-order their iPhone 5 beginning Friday, September 14.
iPhone continues to be a flagship product for the world's most valuable technology company. Since the release of the original iPhone in January 2007, sales have grown to represent more than 40 percent of Apple's total revenue.
Since the launch of the original iPhone, Apple has updated the product annually (e.g., iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4S) and has redesigned the phone every 2 years (e.g., iPhone 3G and iPhone 4).