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Q4 iPhone X shipments will top most phones’ lifetime shipments – and it’s still not enough

iPhone X Launch

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is the world’s top Apple insider, and he consistently issues reports that wind up being accurate. That’s typically good news, since Kuo gives us insights into Apple’s products before they’re released. Sometimes, however, Kuo is the bearer of bad news, and that was the case with his most recent note to clients. Issued late last week, the analyst painted a grim picture of Apple’s iPhone X supply at launch, suggesting there might only be between 2 million and 3 million units ready for release day on November 3rd.

Since that figure is so low considering the pent-up demand for Apple’s new flagship iPhone, that’s the aspect of Kuo’s report that most people focused on. But there are some more numbers the analyst laid out that are equally troubling, yet at the same time they help illustrate just how dominant Apple is in the global smartphone market.

Apple doesn’t flood the market with low-end and mid-range smartphones, so it’ll never be the world’s #1 phone vendor by volume. In terms of sales of a single smartphone model or a single smartphone line, however, no other smartphone maker on the planet can touch Apple, including Samsung.

If any other smartphone company reaches double-digit sales over the lifetime of a single smartphone line, it has a smash hit on its hands. Meanwhile, iPhone sales can climb into the double-digit millions after less than one week. That’s why Kuo’s report that just 2-3 million phones will be on hand when the iPhone X is released is so troubling. According to industry watchers, tens of millions of people around the world will try to preorder the iPhone this Friday, and they’ll all be hoping for a November 3rd delivery.

Well, according to some overlooked figures in Kuo’s recent note to clients, many of those Apple fans won’t even get their new iPhone X this year, let alone on launch day.

While most people focused on the launch figures, the analyst also noted that full-quarter shipments will be lower than initial estimates. Apple’s iPhone X would’ve been difficult to come by if earlier reports panned out, suggesting that between 30 million and 35 million handsets would ship from Apple’s manufacturing partner Foxconn between November and December. Instead, Kuo says fourth-quarter iPhone X shipments will total just 25 million to 35 million units.

So the bad news is that the iPhone X will continue to be extremely difficult to find for the remainder of 2017. But the good news is that Kuo’s sources say iPhone X shipments in the first quarter of 2018 are expected to increase by about 50%.

Zach Epstein

Zach Epstein has worked in and around ICT for more than 15 years, first in marketing and business development with two private telcos, then as a writer and editor covering business news, consumer electronics and telecommunications. Zach’s work has been quoted by countless top news publications in the US and around the world. He was also recently named one of the world's top-10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes, as well as one of Inc. Magazine's top-30 Internet of Things experts.

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