iPhone X fever likely suppressing demand for iPhone 8

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Has the iPhone X been the iPhone 8's biggest enemy?
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are likely performing worse than expected for a full-number iPhone release, according to a new report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.

Instead, CIRP suggests iPhone 8 sales figures are far closer to an iPhone “s” release. That makes a lot of sense, given that the iPhone 8 line is shipping the same year as the eagerly anticipated iPhone X.

So far, there have been mixed reports about the success of Apple’s iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus handsets. Apple stock fell last week on reports of low iPhone 8 sales, while Tim Cook said he “couldn’t be happier” with the launch.

iPhone 8 not measuring up?

CIRP data found that the new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus accounted for 16 percent of total U.S. iPhone sales in the quarter. The iPhone 8 came in at 6 percent, while iPhone 8 Plus bagged 10 percent.

In the same time frame last year, iPhone 7 and 7 Plus together accounted for 43 percent of sales. In 2015, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus represented 24 percent of sales. 2014’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus captured 46 percent of sales in their launch quarter.

Said CIRP co-founder Mike Levin:

“It seems when Apple announced the the forthcoming iPhone X, it changed the market dynamic, and probably depressed demand for the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. Both the newly reduced-price iPhone 7 and 7 Plus and older iPhone models continue to see strong demand. The 7 and 7 Plus accounts for 58 percent of sales in the quarter, much higher than the 35 percent for the then year-old iPhone 6s and 6S Plus in September 2016, and exactly same as the share for the then- year-old iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in September 2015. And in the September 2017 quarter, older models, including iPhone 6s, 6s Plus, and SE, represented 25 percent of sales.

This was higher than the shares for the then-oldest phones in either of the two previous launch quarters. So, rather than waiting for and buying the iPhone 8, it looks like buyers in this quarter either bought existing models, or decided to wait for iPhone X, later in the year.”

Contrasting reports on iPhone 8 numbers

To date, there have been contrasting reports about the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus’ market performance. According to a report from “lifestyle engagement platform” Localytics, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus have seen lower adoption rates than any September launch of an iPhone since at least 2013.

A separate story from last week suggested that Apple may even be slashing iPhone 8 production in half, suggesting that the company overestimated demand.

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CIRP’s iPhone 8 sales predictions.
Photo: CIRP

Other analysts on iPhone 8 sales

However, others have claimed that the handsets are a whole lot more popular than that. Respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo noted that, while launch-day queues for the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus were shorter than in previous years, he estimates that demand is split roughly 50/50 for the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus versus the iPhone X.

Ultimately, analyst predictions are just that: predictions. CIRP’s data comes from a survey of 500 U.S. Apple customers who purchased an iPhone, iPad or Mac between July and September. For a more accurate idea of how sales are going, we’ll have to wait until Apple releases its Q4 2017 earnings report on November 2.