The endless queues to buy the new iPhone are over. Maybe.
Business Insider went to Apple’s flagship London store on Regent Street this morning to see how much buzz the new iPhone was generating. It turns out: not much.
Upon arrival, at about 7.30am, no more than 10 people were queuing. By the time the doors opened, about half an hour later, the number of people was closer to 30.
This is a far cry from years past when there would be literally hundreds of people in line to purchase Apple’s latest smartphone.
The Apple Store (or, rather, Apple Town Square) was rather quiet inside, too. It didn’t feel like a new iPhone was launching. However, iPhone buyers, press, and few other people were the only ones allowed in.
It was a similar story in Sydney, Australia. “There were fewer than 30 people lining up before the store opened,” according to Reuters.
People in London that Business Insider spoke to said they were buying the iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus largely because of its price, they “desperately need” a new phone, or because they want an iPhone with a home button.
There could be a rather simple explanation as to why this launch day felt so different, however: In a little over a month, for the first time in Apple’s history, the store will host its second iPhone launch, the one for the much more anticipated iPhone X.
The iPhone X loomed over this entire launch — and, in a way, the store itself. Some of the people who were buying the iPhone 8 even said that they might come again to pick an iPhone X up next month.
According to analysts cited by The Wall Street Journal, a big reason why demand for the iPhone 8 is seemingly tepid is precisely due to the fact that most customers are holding on to purchase an iPhone X.
The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are mostly iterative devices that, while good, offer very little to those who own last year’s iPhone 7 (and 7 Plus), or even 2015’s 6S lineup. Business Insider’s Steve Kovach also mentioned in his review that waiting for the iPhone X is probably the best thing to do.
Apple had to make the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus for two main reasons: For one, it’s a way to put on the market handsets that don’t risk to alienate its customer base (like those people who don’t want to have a home button-less phone).
And then there’s scale: Demand for iPhones is exceptionally high each year — with over 200 million iPhones shipped — and Apple just isn’t in a position where it can meet such numbers with the iPhone X straight away.
The new flagship iPhone X uses new components, such as an OLED display, that are more difficult to manufacture, and Apple’s high, rigorous standards are the reason why it will be another six weeks before it hits the market.
Still, the iPhone X’s higher price (it starts at $US999 in the US and £949 in the UK, with even higher prices across Europe and other parts of the world) could help Apple’s relatively stagnant growth, particularly in the crucial market of China.
Apple’s estimates for the September quarter (which include the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus but exclude the iPhone X) are between $US49 and $US52 billion (£36-38 billion), and the company rarely misses them.
Robert Cihra, an analyst at Guggenheim Partners, told the WSJ that people not rushing out to buy an iPhone 8 might actually be a good thing. “If they missed because customers are waiting for the X,” she said, “that would be a good miss.”
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