Although Apple has, once more, not released iPhone sales figures, analysts are reporting a ten percent fall in sales during Q3 – suggesting that the iPhone 11 approach has failed. So why is Apple expecting to see a significant increase in sales for the iPhone 12, which isn’t expected to be launched until September 2020?
Gartner suggests that the falling demand for the current iPhone is a result of many consumers moving away from expensive flagships to capable, competent, and cheaper mid-range handsets… an area that Apple does not cover in its portfolio. It also notes the lack of 5G may be a limiting factor for power users looking for a future proof upgrade.
News on the increased demand comes from Digitimes, with 9to5Google’s Bejamin Mayo picking up the story:
“For 2019, the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro is expected to sell around 80 million units. A jump to 100 million or more would represent a significant increase in sales demand. This level of customer interest is apparently fueled by the 5G ‘super cycle’ although the iPhone 12 is also expected to feature significant hardware upgrades compared to the last couple of years.”
The last time Apple had a so called super-cycle was the launch of the iPhone 6 Plus. Before the larger screened OS smartphone was launched, the Android-powered competition were already pushing out a number of choices with more real estate on the display. Apple had countless consumers under a soft lock with the iOS ecosystem who were demanding a large screen. It arrived, sales spiked, but the following year Apple fell back, and has continued to fall back since then.
So we turn to the iPhone 11, and the change of course for the iPhone 12.
While 5G may not be available to every consumer during 2020, support for 5G is important. Influencers and the media will be watching for this and if you are pitching your handset as a premium smartphone without 5G as an option, then it has failed a critical test before it ever reaches the retail shelves.
Without 5G, the iPhone 12 is going to be hobbled in media reviews. So its inclusion will ensure there is no precipitous drop in sales. But will 5G lead to a boost in sales?
Apple is also expected to increase the augmented reality features in the iPhone with the inclusion of a Time of Flight camera to the current three lens setup, and to redesign the external language of the iPhone to be more ‘boxy’ and reminiscent of the iPhone 4 style.
Will these increase the sales of the iPhone 12 family? A small tweak to the design will be welcome, but with a dominant screen and thin design there’s not a huge amount of choice to stand out. Neither will the lure of AR be a significant driver of sales. Which leaves 5G as the driver.
Will there be enough demand for 5G on an iPhone that will mean those eager will hold back an Android purchase? Definitely. Will it be enough to raise annual sales by twenty-five percent? I suspect not.
I believe it is more likely that any increased sales will come from the part of the market not already covered by Apple’s portfolio – specifically the competent mid-range handset. If only Apple had plans here.