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iPhone X sales may not have spurred a ‘super cycle’ of upgrades after all

Published Jan 2nd, 2018 5:15PM EST
iPhone X Sales

In the weeks and months leading up to the iPhone X unveiling, many analysts were convinced that Apple’s next-gen smartphone would spark a ‘super cycle’ of upgrades capable of propelling Apple shares to newfound heights. With the iPhone form factor essentially remaining unchanged from 2014’s iPhone 6 all the way through last year’s iPhone 7, the notion that the iPhone X would spur a massive wave of upgrades similar to what Apple enjoyed with the iPhone 6 made a whole lot of sense.

Today, we’re about two months removed from the iPhone X launch and it appears that notions of an iPhone X super cycle may have been overblown. Of course, we won’t know for sure until Apple’s earnings report comes out later this month, but analysts in recent weeks have been claiming that avalanche of iPhone X upgrades many were expecting hasn’t exactly come to pass.

Most recently, analyst Nicolas Baratte of CLSA issued a new investor note articulating that iPhone X sales during the recent holiday quarter checked in somewhere in the 30 to 35 million range, significantly below initial estimates in the 45 million range. More damning, though, is Baratte’s claim that we won’t see a significant upswing in iPhone X sales in the March quarter either.

“We maintain that 2017 fourth-quarter iPhone X volumes were at 30 to 35 million and we are very skeptical that volumes will increase in the first quarter of 2018,” Baratte wrote in an note obtained by CNBC. “This does not reconcile with the expectation of pent-up demand or push-out to the first quarter of 2018 in our opinion: consumers who wanted to get an iPhone X in December 2017 already have it.”

Notably, Baratte’s point of view is shared by a handful of other analysts. To this point, analyst Paul Sagawa maintains that Apple in 2018 will enjoy only modest iPhone growth with the iPhone X.

“Still, the street consensus for 12% unit growth is optimistic in a global premium smartphone market that is growing in low single digits at best,” Sagawa writes. “Early signals suggest a modest reception for the three new models, with the only potential saving grace in China. Given the higher price points and resurgent Chinese brands, we don’t think it will be enough.”

Echoing this point, Sinolink Securities Co. analyst Zhang Bin last week also issued an investor note claiming that iPhone X sales for the holiday quarter will be less impressive than initially anticipated.

As a point of interest, Apple during the 2016 holiday quarter sold 78.3 million iPhones, good enough to set a new all-time record. With earnings season just around the corner, we won’t have to wait too much longer to see if the iPhone X was compelling enough to boost iPhone sales in a significant fashion.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert 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.

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