That claim- the one that is the title of this post—is pretty bold. Obviously, some people are buying the new iPhone brothers. But it seems like not as many have. Because Apple only releases sales dollars quarterly, we don’t actually have anything to look at, but we can speculate given on what we know about Apple’s past. So, here are the facts;
- Every iPhone launch since iPhone 3GS has broken sales records for the company
- Since Apple began selling new iPhone models online at the moment of their release, every single model of a new iPhone release would be sold out within hours
- This is not true of iPhone 8 and iPhone 8+
How do we know this? Well, for starters, you can go onto the Apple Store online and go to the purchasing page. The Space Grey iPhone 8+ at 64GB, the most popular model of last year’s iPhone 7 and 7+ release, is still available. You could order it today—less than 2 weeks after the launch! —and receive it in the next 2 days. That’s unheard of at this point in iPhone history. But that’s true of almost every model. This is almost definitely because of iPhone X looming, only a few months away. Dedicated Apple fans in need of an upgrade would rather wait for the best iPhone device than settle for iPhone 8, which will be outdated in just a few months.
So, we now know (with what I’ll call “reasonable certainty,” if you believe me (check my sources)) that iPhone 8 and iPhone 8+ (henceforth, the two phones will be collectively referred to as ‘iPhone 8’) is selling measurably less than its forebears. But why? Let’s take a look at Apple’s other sub-premium iPhone releases to see if we can gather some information.
In 2013, Apple released the colorful plastic iPhone 5C along with iPhone 5S. This phone was largely considered a failure, but it actually sold about 24 million units. That’s a heck of a lot of phones, but is much lower than the approximately 91 million iPhone 5 units in the year before. Many considered this to be a massive failure for the company, but iPhone 5C outsold every phone other than iPhone 5S in the quarter of its release. The reason, then, that people considered the pastel brother of iPhone 5S a failure was because they were expecting iPhone 5C to sell as a premium model when, in fact, it was replacing the year-old iPhone 5 at the time. As a product that was designed as a previous generation product, it did much better than simply leaving the lineup alone would have. It made production cheaper by using plastic over aluminum, but kept the same year-old internals, which made the whole device quite the profitable boon, even if it didn’t sell as highly as the highest-end iPhone.
In 2016, Apple released iPhone SE, a phone with iPhone 6S power in the body of iPhone 5S. This was also released as a non-flagship iPhone, but it had a purpose: it was a small phone with all the power of a big phone. And it worked—iPhone SE sold between 13 and 17 million units. A new phone in Apple’s off-season proved to be a pretty big hit for the people who still wanted a smaller phone without needing to buy an older phone.
So, Apple has been successful in launching iPhone devices that were not designed to be the highest-end devices with fair success. So why is iPhone 8 doing so poorly? The answer seems to be that both iPhone 5C and iPhone SE were built for a specific purpose, to satisfy a certain type of buyer; the budget buyer and the small-phone user, respectively. iPhone 8 is different; it is the continuation of the “flagship iPhone” line, but it was outdated from the moment it was announced. Even though iPhone X is pricier, it isn’t that much more expensive; a 256GB iPhone 8+ is only $50 cheaper than a 64GB iPhone X, and most Apple fans are willing to bite the bullet to get the best iPhone. Whether iPhone X lives up to the hype is still to be seen, but we can already see just how much of the iPhone community is biding their time for the shiny new device.
Read more about all of these subjects:
Apple: iPhone 8 purchasing page
The Verge: iPhone X may be hurting iPhone 8 sales
AppleInsider: Apple’s iPhone 5c ‘failure flop’ outsold Blackberry, Windows Phone and every Android flagship in Q4