What’s old is new: Apple will push its older iPhones over the holidays

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iPhone sales
Expect to see more iPhone XR handsets on shelves this holidays.
Photo: Apple

With coronavirus-related production challenges stifling the supply of iPhone 12 models, Apple is reportedly turning to older models to sell during the all-important holiday season.

According to a new report, published Thursday, Apple is seeking to “make up for shortages of its 5G lineup” by upping its orders for the iPhone 11, iPhone SE and iPhone XR handsets. Don’t expect to see a whole lot of iPhone 11 Pro or 11 Pro Max handsets, though!

Nikkei Asia notes that Apple has placed “robust” orders for its older model iPhones. It writes that:

“To fill the empty space on shelves, Apple has asked suppliers to prepare more than 20 million units of iPhone 11, iPhone SE and iPhone XR handsets from October through the year-end for holiday shopping season and early next year. That is equivalent to more than a quarter of the orders Apple placed for the new iPhone 12 series this year, which is around 75 million to 80 million units, people who have direct knowledge of the matter told Nikkei Asia.”

It quotes an unnamed executive-level source as saying that, “The momentum for the iPhone 11 is surprisingly strong and keeps going. But that’s not the case for Pro and Pro Max.”

Challenges for the iPhone this year

This year’s iPhone refresh was dealt a hard blow early on when production was disrupted due to the pandemic. While Apple did a great job of clawing back lost time, it still resulted in the new iPhones being delayed. It also means challenges in mass-producing enough of them to fulfill demand.

According to Nikkei, the latest challenge is supply constraints with components like power chips and LiDAR components. As a result, Apple has reallocated some components intended for iPad to help out iPhone 12 Pro manufacturing.

Apple’s decision to focus on selling older iPhones makes a lot of sense. As does the fact that iPhone 11 demand would still be booming while iPhone 11 Pro demand has virtually vanished. That’s likely because the customers gravitating to the iPhone 11 Pro will instead have jumped to the iPhone 12 Pro.

One interesting point not touched on in the Nikkei article is what this is going to mean for marketing. Apple usually ceases ads for its older iPhone models the moment a new one is released. (It even sets videos advertising the old handsets to “private” on YouTube to avoid them popping up accidentally.) Will Apple start a renewed advertising push for its older models or just hope brand awareness is already strong enough? We’ll have to wait and see.

Source: Nikkei Asia