The Economic Impact of the iPhone

In his “Strategies” column in today’s New York Times, economics reporter Jeff Sommer has some eye-opening comments on how important the iPhone is to current economic activity.

‘The iPhone is having a measurable impact,’ said Michael Feroli, the chief United States economist for JPMorgan Chase. ‘It’s a little gadget, but it costs a lot and it seems that everybody has one. When you do the multiplication, it’s going to matter.’ He estimates that iPhone sales are adding one-quarter to one-third of a percentage point to the annualized growth rate of the gross domestic product.

I looked it up for my own curiosity, and 2013 GDP was estimated at US$16.8 trillion, according to this site. One-quarter of one percent of that is US$42 billion. I’m no mathlete, so please let me know if I forgot to carry a one in there.

Read the article at

Update: Reader Mike Tasso wrote in with a more clear-headed interpretation of the numbers:

If the US$16 trillion economy grows by 2%, that means it will grow by US$320 Billion. The article is basically saying that iPhone represents about 12-15% of that (.3/2)—about US$40-50 Billion.


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