More Evidence of Positive iPhone and iPad Sales?

December 28th, 2017

In yesterday’s column, I wrote about the contradictory information being posted about iPhone X sales. Some reports, claiming to be based on supply chain data, delivered a dire picture, that sales are way below expectations, and component orders have been cut for the March quarter. Others suggested that Apple’s high-end smartphone is doing better than expected, with a surprisingly large number of people favoring the more expensive spread, the 256GB model, listing for $1,149 in the U.S.

Indeed, analyst Jun Zhang, of Rosenblatt Securities, an investment firm, recently stated that Apple sold as many as six million iPhone X units during the Black Friday weekend alone. That’s just one weekend, and you wouldn’t think sales would fall off the cliff after that.

Now I grant that estimates do not necessarily present an accurate picture of actual sales. That information won’t be known until Apple releases its December 2017 quarter numbers a few weeks from now. I suppose they could drop hints, but that doesn’t happen very often. But it’s also true that alleged tech pundits and industry analysts seeking bad news about Apple might try to make hay of any negative data, even if it’s not put into proper perspective.

After all, it stands to reason that March quarter sales will generally be lower than a holiday quarter. So those supply chain metrics, even if they are close to the mark, should not be cause for alarm. Besides it’s not that the people who bought an iPhone X did so because of expectations of total sales.

Well, here comes yet another set of data indicating some really positive news for Apple. According to Flurry, a mobile analytics firm owned by Yahoo. the iPhone and iPad, together, led the pack in device activations during the week leading up to Christmas.

So according to this survey, 44% of those activations were for Apple gear. Second place went to Samsung for 26% of device activations. The rest of the pack were consigned to single digits. The numbers for the iPhone were almost identical to last year, whereas Samsung’s share went up a few points, no doubt at the expense of other contenders.

During that week, activations for the iPhone X was third among the new models, with 14.7% of the total. Surprisingly, the iPhone 7, released in 2016, was first with 15.1%, and the iPhone 6, from 2014, was 14.9%. Now I don’t need to remind you that Apple no longer sells the iPhone 6, but third party resellers do, and people around the world who want something more affordable might flock to older gear.

It’s also interesting to note that 53% of those activations involved larger smartphones, or phablets, with display size of five inches or more. Obviously, the only iPad activations recorded were the cellular models, accounting for 8% of activations.

According to published reports about Flurry’s results, the survey was based on the more the one million mobile apps that use their analytics service.

Now this isn’t the only new survey getting attention as the year ends. There’s another claiming high sales for the Pixel 2 from Google, even though it’s available from very few dealers. You’d expect total sales to be a fraction of those of the iPhone or any Samsung device. Indeed, it is already being discounted by up to $300, which doesn’t auger well for terrific sales.

Indeed, one online blogger wrote about a curious experience he encountered upon trying to buy a Pixel 2 from a Verizon Wireless store when it was first released in late October. Evidently the salesperson kept trying to push him to buying a Samsung Galaxy S8 instead, clear evidence of who was paying the biggest spiffs.

In any case, the growing amount of positive data about iPhone sales surely flies in the face of those supply chain reports. If you consider how it played out in 2012 and 2013 with the iPhone 5, and false claims of low demand, you might think that history is about to repeat itself. But this time, it doesn’t seem as if Apple’s stock price has been seriously hurt by the news. Perhaps Wall Street analysts, having been burned the last time, have opted to treat such news skeptically.

Again, what really counts is what Apple has to say about December quarter sales. In the meantime, what difference does it even make? Should you buy the gadget that’s the most popular, simply because it’s the most popular? If that were the case, Samsung’s sales would grow even further because it is, after all, the number one smartphone maker on the planet.

You’d say the same about such companies as Dell and HP, which lead worldwide PC sales. Indeed, other than Apple, most PCs are cookie-cutter products, usually differing very little from each other.

What’s more, even if the iPhone X sold fewer units than some might have hoped, or expected, so long as Apple is making a good profit does it really matter? Apple would no doubt learn from the experience and make proper adjustments. On the other hand, if the iPhone X is as successful as it seems to be, Apple might move more of its features to other iPhones and also iPads in 2018.

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