In an official press release on Tuesday, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) announced that pre-orders of the highly anticipated iPhone X will commence on Friday, October 27, with the device scheduled to start shipping on November 3 in over 55 countries worldwide. The more interesting element, however, of the announcement is a couple of subtle statements interspersed in the article that clue us what iPhone X sales might look like.
Apple’s statement claims that there will be enough stock of the iPhone X for walk-in customers. However, this declaration came with a caveat, and Apple ‘encouraged’ walk-in customers must arrive early. This could be an indication that Apple may not have sufficient stocks of the iPhone X to keep up with expected demand as of this point in time, and the launch could be plagued with availability issues. This possibility falls well in line with some reports that have claimed device shortage issues with the iPhone X. The Nikkei Asian Review says that Apple may only manage to ship 20 million units of the iPhone X in 2017, which is only half of what was originally planned.
But, what is the reason behind the insufficient stocks?
Production issues! A while back we reported on production issues surrounding iPhone X due to memory and OLED display shortages. In fact, the entire pre-launch coverage of the iPhone X was littered with reports of delays due to supply chain issues. However, many of those issues were eventually fixed. This time around the culprit seems to be manufacturing defects during the OLED bonding process, as well as shortages of the all-new face authentication module for Face ID.
Of course, the consequences of this development could be quite significant and far-reaching. Due to the relative failure of the iPhone 8/8 Plus, Apple is now squarely dependent on the iPhone X this year. Apple needs the iPhone X to be successful in order to keep up with rivals, who are providing stiff competition with new flagships of their own. The Google Pixel 2/Pixel 2 XL, Galaxy Note 8 and the LG V30 are all well-reviewed devices that could give the iPhone X a run for its money.
If these reports of supply issues turn out to be true, Apple may at best be able to sell 20 million units of iPhone X this year. Just to put this in context, the iPhone 6S/6S Plus sold 13 million units in its first launch weekend in 2015 alone! Even though the iPhone 7/7 Plus sold 25% less during its launch weekend compared to its predecessor, that still amounts to around 9.75 million unit sales.
It is increasingly looking like the 10th anniversary of the iPhone is slowly becoming Apple’s worst nightmare.