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Is This a Way to Estimate iPhone Sales?

So far, reports from industry analysts — and I don’t think they use crystal balls — does lead one to believe that sales of the iPhone X are off the charts. As Apple continues to improve production, more product is available to buy.

Apple’s online store indicated, as of the time that I wrote this column, delivery ahead of Christmas, with limited availability at Apple Stores. This is a tremendous improvement from the five to six weeks backlog right after initial orders were taken in late October. It also helps put the lie to all the fear-mongering that you wouldn’t be able to receive an iPhone X for a month or more, or that it would make well into 2018 for things to settle down.

While I’m not suggesting you’ll be able to go out and buy the version you like the night before Christmas, the situation does appear to be far better than one might have expected. This comes after months of claims that Apple would encounter serious difficulties in overcoming alleged early production problems, particularly with the sophisticated hardware for its Face ID feature. That Apple delivered the iPhone X weeks after the other new iPhones went on sale does indicate a slower production ramp up, at least at first.

But you have to expect things to be difficult what with an all new model that’s, by the usual definition, a hot ticket.

Now when industry analysts check sales, it would seem sensible that they would survey potential customers and, of course, check with dealers. Would they base potential sales strictly on searches?

Well, a certain published report suggests “sales of [Apple’s] new iPhones may not have been as robust as some had hoped.” I won’t mention the name of the analyst, because of what this claim is based on. The article also asserts that “some investors have been disappointed by lack of enthusiasm for the iPhone X.”

But isn’t the iPhone X backordered? Aren’t industry analysts that talking of blowout sales? What about published reports that some six million iPhone X units were sold during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday holiday weekend? Were those reports false?

Well, the survey that questions iPhone X popularity is based on — get this — the rate of Google searches!

Take a deep breath dear reader.

Now I presume if someone wanted to check out an iPhone, wouldn’t they also consider going direct to Apple’s site to find the information, or perhaps a dealer from which they’d want to purchase one? What about a magazine that may have reviewed the product, such as Consumer Reports? Does it always have to be a Google search?

Besides, are there surveys of iPhone X purchasers, or purchases of any iPhone or rival product, which can correlate the Google search rate to the final purchase decision? What about smartphones from Samsung, LG, even Pixel, Phone by Google? Can you relate their sales numbers, such as they are, to the number of searches they generated?

I’m not suggesting there’s no connection, even a slight one. I’m just saying that, if one is going to base possible sales results on searches alone, prepare to be disappointed.

Obviously if the reports of high demand for the iPhone X are correct, the search data has to be questioned. But that also assumes that the report in question — and I’m not linking to it or identifying the source — quoted that search data accurately. Google is identified as the source.

More to the point, how many people out there will base their decision on what to buy on what others search for? Is that a serious factor in reaching such a decision? I do notice that when I just searched Google for the iPhone X, it reported “About 275,000,000 results (0.59 seconds).”


That’s an awful lot of results for a supposedly unpopular product. In comparison, a check for iPhone 8 yielded “About 173,000,000 results (0.56 seconds).” The Samsung Galaxy S8 brought “About 37,200,000 results (0.69 seconds).” A search for Pixel 2 brought “About 31,600,000 results (0.56 seconds) .”

You know, maybe there is a correlation after all, one that indicates that the iPhone X is is at the top of the list, followed by the iPhone 8. The searches for gear from Samsung and Pixel brought predictably lower results. So it doesn’t appear that Google is gaming the system.

But results re not akin to the search rate, meaning how often people are looking for something.

What it dos mean is that there is an amazing amount of information out there about the iPhone X, and that would appear to indicate lots of people are interested in the product.

By comparison, one of my radio shows, The Tech Night Owl LIVE, brought “About 5,410,000 results (0.53 seconds).”

You know, that’s not half bad actually.

The real question, however, is whether the headline, “Apple’s iPhone X Ain’t a Blockbuster,” has any factual basis whatever. The actual results will be known in early 2018, when Apple releases its quarterly financials for the December quarter. But since they don’t normally reveal model breakdowns, it might have to be inferred by how Apple describes the totals and where they lie. If Apple does achieve record sales as is expected, it wouldn’t matter so much, right? It’s about the total sales, not any individual model, right? What might indicate a preference for the iPhone X is the average selling price for obvious reasons.