Amid a slew of reports that Apple recently decided to cut iPhone X production in half, shares of Apple have predictably taken a beating over the past few days. While the idea that Apple has opted to reduce iPhone X production from 40 million units down to 20 million units seems absurd on its face, it hasn’t stopped a number of tech pundits and analysts from coming out and boldly declaring that the iPhone X super cycle has been a bust.
Some analysts, though, are viewing iPhone upgrade figures through a different lens. Specifically, Guggenhiem analyst Robert Cihra opines that the importance of the iPhone X doesn’t rest with a singular super cycle over a period of a few months, but rather that the device itself — with its new form factor and new features — will set the stage for a “multi-year” refresh cycle. Indeed, with many people not willing to take the $999 plunge with the iPhone X, it stands to reason that we’ll see a lot of current iPhone owners upgrade to next-year’s rumored 6.1-inch iPhone with an edgeless LCD display.
In an investor note obtained by Barron’s, Cihra lays out the case that the new design introduced by the iPhone X will result in refresh cycle that lasts anywhere from 1-3 years. Cihra also notes that a prolonged refresh cycle is preferable to a super cycle as the latter would prompt investor concerns of a huge sales drop-off in subsequent months.
The note reads in part:
We have repeatedly laid out that we do NOT see Apple’s new iPhone X setting up some one-year “super-cycle” but rather that it represents a new high-end SKU with NEW TECHNOLOGIES that can drive an elongated MULTI-year upgrade cycle as OLED, 3D cameras, on-device ML, and augmented reality/ AR features waterfall into mainstream models over the coming 1-3 years.
Another point worth noting is that the average selling price of the iPhone will likely increase thanks to the pricey iPhone X models. So even if iPhone X sales over the past quarter aren’t off the charts, the device will be hugely beneficial for Apple’s bottom line.
“[We] have long projected higher blended ASPs being the much bigger driver” for revenue growth, Cihra added.