Apple to churn out 24 million next-gen iPhones this year

By the end of the year, Apple will have manufactured 24 million units of its latest iPhone, according to a report from Digitimes.

The speculation is that Foxconn, the overseas distributor in charge of the iPhone, will ship 4.5 million devices to the US in time for the phone’s launch this summer, following by an additional 19.5 million through the end of the year.

That’s nearly half of the entire iPhone family sales to date. The IT trade publication that broke the story doesn’t delve into the reasons why Apple has fast-tracked so many units, but if it is true then there must be something bigger to this story.

It’s possible that the new iPhone will hit a much sweeter price point than the previous, expensive models. Or maybe they’ll offer some sort of can’t-refuse upgrade deal for the 50 million people who already own an iPhone.

Or maybe, just maybe, this iPhone will go into CDMA territoriy, allowing service providers other than AT&T and T-Mobile to power the device.

Then again, it’s probably just Apple assuming that the crazy guy who left a prototype of the new phone in a bar generated enough publicity for a good chunk of the entire country to go out and buy one on launch day.