iPhone 6 iPhone 6 Plus side by side

After shipping a record-smashing 74.5 million handsets during the holiday quarter, representing more than half of Apple’s total revenue for the quarter, the Cupertino firm could be poised to move about 50 million iPhone units in the first quarter of this year.

Tuesday, trade publication DigiTimes cited estimates by Taiwanese handset suppliers who expect shipments of iPhone devices to grow from the 43.7 million units in the year-ago quarter to as many as 50 million shipments in Q1 2015, a 14.4 percent annual increase.

“Demand for smartphones in the Greater China area during the upcoming Lunar New Year holidays will maintain sales of iPhone devices in the first quarter,” said market watchers, adding that Asia-Pacific sales to Apple’s total sales are expected to continue to rise.

As observed by AppleInsider, to date, Apple has exceeded sales of 50 million iPhones in a single quarter twice, and both of those were holiday quarters.

The 50 million units estimate could be a bit conservative.

Apple CEO Tim Cook told investors on an earnings call that his teams are dissatisfied with the fact that iPhone 6 inventory wasn’t where they wanted it to be by year end, so more iPhones will be needed to fill up the channel.

Hurun Research recently said that “the upcoming Chinese New Year would be the peak of gift giving in China.” By the way, Apple has become the most eye-catching gift brand for the rich and famous in China.

Apple’s sales in the Greater China region (mainly China, Hong Kong and Taiwan) topped $16.1 billion during the last three months of 2014, a 70 percent increase from a year earlier.

Ahead of the Chinese New Year festivities later this month, Apple has opened new retail stores in HangzhouChongqing and Zhengzhou, with another one scheduled to open in Tianjin on Saturday, February 7, at 10am local time.

A total of 25 new stores are set to open in China within the next two years, meaning there will be 40 Apple Stores open in the country by mid-2016.

On a related note, The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that Samsung’s key executive in charge of the Galaxy S6 has resigned abruptly, citing health reasons. Sources told the financial newspaper that the executive “could return to the company at a later time.”

Yesterday, Samsung invited journalists to check out its next flagship smartphone, to be unveiled on March 1 at the ‘Galaxy Unpacked 2015’ event held at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

Source: DigiTimes