The honest answer is no one knows — Apple hasn’t and probably won’t specify how many units of the iPhone X they’ve actually sold. But, reports have been flying that the number has been disappointing. Nikkei reported over the weekend that Apple has cut production targets from 40 million to 20 million, meaning Apple now thinks it will sell half the number of iPhone X units they originally thought.
Does that mean the iPhone X is a flop? The numbers seem to say it’s at least a disappointment. We’ll probably never know if the disappointment came from the U.S. market, the European market, or China, but at some point, Apple made a huge miscalculation on how many of the $1,000+ phones they could sell.
That high price tag paid for OLED displays, a more advanced rear camera array, and the new front camera array stocked with facial recognition tech that enable Face ID and, much less controversially, Animoji.
One interesting thing to note in the Nikkei report is this bit: “Apple is expected to maintain a total production target of 30 million units for lower-priced models such as the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.” Last year, some analysts predicted that Apple would release the more expensive iPhone X knowing that it would sell fewer units than their regular models (the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus), which made sense — not only would the price scare some buyers away, the possibility of a supply shortage of OLED displays would have made Apple want to control demand of the iPhone X, anyway. Well, supply constraints were indeed a problem, delaying the shipment of many iPhone X units over the holiday season. The scenario played out exactly how analysts imagined, except for the part where Apple played along and set production targets accordingly.
That leads us to a surprising scenario — the possibility of Apple axing the iPhone X before it’s even been on the market for a year. Usually, Apple keeps year-old models in production and sells them at a discount, but if demand remains low, they may just press on with the new phones they’ll announce this year. They might be better off — if they can fix all the complaints and get the cost down, any follow-up to the iPhone X could get Apple right back to the comfortable dominance it’s used to.