The imminent release of the iPhone 5 could add 0.33% to growth of the USA's gross domestic product, according to JPMorgan Chase Bank's Michael Feroli.
In a note titled “Can one little phone impact GDP?" Feroli concludes that yes, it can, because:
“Our equity analysts believe around 8 million iPhone 5's will be sold in the US in Q4, even while sales of previous generation iPhones are maintained at a solid pace.”
Working on a price-per-phone of US$600, and costs of US$200 to manufacture and import each phone , Feroli those 8 million phones will “boost Q4 GDP by $3.2 billion, or $12.8 billion at an annual rate. This would boost annualized GDP growth in Q4 by 0.33%-point.”
Feroli does say these calculations have a back-of-envelope roughness to them and should not be taken as gospel, but does not that “The last iPhone launch was at a similar time last year. In October of last year, when the iPhone 4s first became widely available, overall retail sales that month significantly outperformed expectations.”
The iPhone 5, he thinks, will be a bigger launch than the 4s, leading him to say “we think the estimate mentioned in the first paragraph is reasonable.”
The news of a GDP boost will almost certainly be welcomed by candidates in the US presidential election, given the land of the free's stuttering recovery from the great recession. Of course it will be hard for either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney to claim credit for the growth as data on the economy's performance is published retrospectively. Whether they'll be able to resist talking up an iPhone-led recovery is another matter. ®