iPhone X drives Apple's ‘best ever’ year for smartphone sales

Apple has just begun its best ever year for iPhones, setting new records over the holiday quarter, according to IHS Markit analyst, Ian Fogg.

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Apple has just begun its best ever year for iPhones, setting new records over the holiday quarter, according to IHS Markit analyst, Ian Fogg.

A new iPhones record

Fogg is incredibly bullish on Apple’s performance, writing:

“We expect Apple will enjoy its best ever year for iPhone,” anticipating 88.8 million iPhone sales in the current quarter and year-on-year increases in each subsequent quarter in contrast to the same time last year.

(Don’t forget, on launch, Apple sold around 3 million iPhone X units in just 20 minutes, around 150,000 phones per minute and 2,500 iPhone X sales per second.)

Fogg notes that iPhone X already accounts for over 2 percent of the active iPhone user base in some of the wealthiest nations, including Singapore, Denmark, Switzerland and Japan. That’s since the device launched in early November.

Making the calls

Fogg observes that initial uptake of these devices seems to reflect the patterns seen when Apple has introduced flagship iPhone upgrades in the past. “This indicates good demand for iPhone X and is better than the rumored supply,” he wrote.

There are a few other nuggets in the report:

  • In the US, iPhone X adoption after three weeks matched iPhone 8 Plus adoption.
  • In the US, iPhone X beat early adoption levels for both the iPhone 8 and 7 Plus.
  • In Japan, initial iPhone X adoption was as good as or better than any recent iPhone launch and matched the level of the iPhone 7.

These promising signs appear as Gartner reports global smartphone sales to have returned to growth, with Apple up 5.7 percent in Q3.

Quite clearly the industry slump that has existed since speculation around Apple’s tenth anniversary $1,000 smartphone began has ended – and Apple’s only really going to see the benefit of this across the current quarter.

Apple’s $1,000 gamble

Apple’s gamble paid off.

I recall earlier this year when the rumor mill began to speculate on the company’s plans to introduce an iPhone priced at over a thousand bucks and people laughed at the idea. I don’t see them laughing now. Apple will sell tens of millions of these devices in the current quarter.

Apple is also creating yet more space between itself and its competitors with the move. Even the iPhone 8 is a far better device than some similarly-priced rivals and iPhone X improves on that.

Apple’s premium devices also deliver much better user experiences. Mobile diagnostics experts at the Blancco Technology Group recently revealed data that confirms Android device failure rate (30 percent) was nearly double that of iOS devices (16 percent). Samsung was the Android manufacturer with the highest failure rate (53 percent).

That matters.

Think about it this way: Device reliability will become an increasingly important metric as the market matures and consumers seek smartphones robust enough to handle daily use for longer periods between upgrades. You get what you pay for, I guess.

ABOVE: I wonder what song Apple’s execs are singing?

Waiting for the second round

Apple has not shared even the glimmer of an idea as to how many of its new devices it has shifted, but IHS data echoes a raft of similar recent claims I’ve been tracking here.

Localytics this week claimed it saw a 47 percent uplift in iPhone activations across Thanksgiving weekend, calling this “Apple’s biggest Thanksgiving in years”.

The same company has previously claimed the new models have been gathering market share at twice the rate achieved by the iPhone 7 releases in 2016.

That Apple appears on track to set new records on the back of iPhone X has also been suggested by a flurry of data from IDC, Slice Intelligence, Localytics, SEMRush and a gaggle of other analysts, as I reported here.

Apple’s financial projections suggest it has been expecting to shift around 80 million smartphones in the current quarter, but I think that when the dust settles over the holiday season, we will see the company exceed that.

That’s round one.

Round two, next year, will perhaps begin when Apple introduces the next edition iPhone SE. A device that will put competitors under even more pressure at the lower-priced end of the market. And somewhere bubbling away around all of this we have Apple’s Next Big Thing plan to accelerate its push into AR.

Grab the popcorn.

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