How Critics Got the iPhone X ‘Panic’ Story So Very Wrong

Jason Snell:

Apple has always been a company in the spotlight, but the runaway success of the iPhone has made it far more important than it ever was before. Apple generates twice the revenue it generated seven years ago, largely thanks to the iPhone.

But lately there’s been a lot of doubt about the iPhone. The release of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in late 2014 led to three straight quarters where growth surpassed 50 percent. It was huge—but unsustainable. iPhone sales shrunk, then began to grow slowly again. This year the scuttlebutt from industry sources was that the iPhone X was a flop, and that Apple’s status in the Chinese phone market was shaky.

With the release of Apple’s quarterly results on Tuesday, though, Apple and the iPhone are still riding high. The doubts of analysts have been kept at bay, at least temporarily. The fact is, it’s good to be in the smartphone business, and Apple knows it better than anyone. “I think the smartphone is best market for a consumer product company in the history of the world,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said on Tuesday. “It’s a terrific market and we’re proud to be a part of it.”


In speaking with financial analysts on Tuesday, Cook said this regarding the technologies Apple built into the iPhone X: “Obviously, if those technologies move to a lower price point, that may lead to increased unit demand.”

That seems pretty clear to me. Cook is saying that the new tech Apple introduced with the iPhone X will start rolling down to lower-cost phones, and he figures that it will drive demand. Presumably Apple will keep innovating at the high end of the iPhone product line, but those innovations — Face ID, for example — will eventually drive sales of lower-end models. The wheel keeps on turning, doubt about the future of the iPhone will slowly seep back in from some quarters, and Apple will just keep on selling iPhones.


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