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Survey claims that ‘purchase intent’ for new iPhones is at a 5-year low

iPhone 2018

With reports swirling that demand for the iPhone XR is weaker than anticipated, Apple last week took the unusual step of noting that the iPhone XR has been the company’s “most popular iPhone each and every day since the day it became available.” While the statement was meant to alleviate concern regarding iPhone sales, it hasn’t done much to boost investor confidence. Indeed, shares of Apple earlier today dropped to $168 a share at one point, the lowest they’ve been at in 8 months.

While we’ll likely never have a firm grasp on how iPhone XR sales stack up in light of Apple’s reluctance to divulge iPhone unit sales, a new survey from UBS reveals that overall interest in iPhone upgrades is at a five-year low.

Originally brought to light by CNBC, the UBS survey fielded responses from 6,900 consumers and found that 18% of respondents are interested in purchasing an iPhone over the next 12 months. As a point of comparison, that figure stood at around 21% when UBS conducted a similar survey last year.

Also of note is that overall interest in picking up a new iPhone in China is down from 30% last year to 23% this year.

“Investor expectations for this iPhone cycle are muted,” UBS analyst Timothy Arcuri wrote in an investor note. “Consensus estimate for iPhones in 2019 is for roughly 2 percent unit decline and about 1 percent revenue growth,.”

All told, it remains a bit peculiar to see analysts so hyper-focused on iPhone unit sales while glossing over growing revenue and profitability across the entirety of Apple’s business. As described in further detail over here, analysts and tech pundits have for years demanded Apple look at a future beyond the iPhone. Apple has not only done this — with its burgeoning services division and the growing popularity of the Apple Watch — but has figured out a way to impressively boost profits even in the face of stagnant iPhone sales. While one would assume this would be a positive development, investors on Wall Street clearly seem to disagree.

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 15 years. A life long Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW. When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.