Apple Inc's iPhone sales and revenue forecasts, due to be released on Monday, may offer clues as to whether its low-cost 5C model missed the mark or whether the world's largest tech company can continue its run of smash-hit gadgets.
Signs have emerged that demand for the cheaper model is lagging the top-tier iPhone 5S - both of which went on sale in September - because its $100 (61 pounds) discount is proving to be insufficient to motivate emerging market and price-conscious customers.
But some analysts say the concerns are overblown and that a greater proportion of iPhone 5S shipped, translates into better margins and earnings overall.
Apple will be reporting results just a week after taking the wraps off an incrementally improved iPad Air. But it is the iPhone, which accounts for more than half the company's profit and is its highest-margin gadget, that takes centre stage.
Apple is expected to report sales of 33 million to 36 million iPhones in its fiscal fourth quarter that ended in September, rising to more than 50 million in the typically strong holiday quarter - the first full quarter of sales of the two new phones.
"Media reports of 5C production cuts are misleading, in our view, given what we think has been strengthening overall 5S/5C production with 5S vectors continuing to strengthen even real time," Timothy Arcuri, an analyst at Cowen & Co, said in a research note.
Apple has come under pressure over the past year or two to bolster sales of its iPhones and iPads as perennial rival Samsung Electronics and cheaper gadgets based on Google Inc's Android software chip away at its once-leading market share.
Its stock has gained 12.5 per cent since August, when famously aggressive activist investor Carl Icahn disclosed a large position in the iPhone maker and began making calls for a new, stepped-up $150 billion share buyback programme - boosting hopes of a bigger return of cash to shareholders than anticipated.
But the stock is still down about 1 per cent this year, vastly underperforming the S&P 500's 23 per cent gain.
Longer-term, investors wonder whether the company that revolutionized the cellphone industry and popularised the tablet computer has another groundbreaking device left in it.
Analysts say it will take a genuinely new device - like the oft-rumoured smartwatch or some sort of TV - to revive the stock. Investors also hope that Apple will seal a deal to sell phones through China Mobile Ltd, gaining access finally to the country's largest telecoms operator.
"We do see fewer positive catalysts for the stock as the company finishes its annual product line refresh," Colin Gillis, an analyst at BGC Financial, said in a Friday note to clients.