An Apple employee demonstrates the facial recognition feature of the new iPhone X. (Eric Risberg, AP File)
New York - Apple looks like it’s having a not-so Merry Christmas.
Analysts have lowered iPhone X shipment projections for the first quarter of next year, citing signs of lacklustre demand at the end of the holiday shopping season.
Sinolink Securities analyst Zhang Bin said in a report on Monday that handset shipments in the period may be as low as 35 million, or 10 million less than he previously estimated. "After the first wave of demand has been fulfilled, the market now worries that the high price of the iPhone X may weaken demand in the first quarter," Zhang wrote.
JL Warren Capital said shipments will drop to 25 million units in the first quarter of 2018 from 30 million units in the fourth quarter, citing reduced orders at some Apple suppliers. The drop reflects “weak demand because of the iPhone X’s high price point and a lack of interesting innovations”, the New York-based research firm said in note to clients on Friday.
"Bad news here is that highly publicised and promoted X did not boost the global demand for iPhone X," according to the note.
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Apple has been counting on a redesigned 10th anniversary iPhone to boost shipments as its market value advances toward $1 trillion.
The Cupertino, California-based company is facing new challenges from Samsung Electronics, which is quickly recovering from the Galaxy Note 7’s recall after fires. In the meantime, Chinese brands such as Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi are also luring away potential customers in China and other emerging markets such as India.
Apple received a rare downgrade last week from Nomura Instinet analyst Jeffrey Kvaal, who said iPhone X sales as well as other positive factors are already baked into the stock price. He lowered his rating to "neutral" from "buy".
The stock has soared 51% this year, bringing its market value to almost $900 billion.
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Apple’s efforts to increase iPhone X production in recent months have made supply and demand fairly balanced at the moment, said Jia Mo, an analyst at Canalys in Shanghai.
"The market will still hold high expectations for Apple’s 2018 products if Apple introduces more devices with iPhone X’s key features to cover a wider price range," he said.
Customers seem to be opting for cheaper models of the iPhone, according to Cowen, which says that suggests Apple failed to cram enough new technology into the iPhone X to justify a $999 (Rprice tag.
New features such as facial recognition and virtual reality herald Apple’s vision for future smartphones, but other issues such as the lack of augmented-reality apps have cooled buyer buyer interest in those technologies.