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Why the lack of an iPhone X ‘super cycle’ might actually be a good thing

iPhone X Apple

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.

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.