Demand for iPhone X soars in India but delivery might be slow

Consumers looking to enter the premium smartphone user base are more likely to deviate towards iPhone 8. Photo: Reuters
The demand for Apple’s latest, iPhone X, is off the charts — but you might have to stay patient before getting your hands on it, claim analysts.

Pre-orders for the much anticipated 10th anniversary phone started in US around Friday midnight. Squashing reports of muted demand, Apple Inc showed that pre-orders were soaring. 

The company’s shares, which have fallen steadily since it announced in early September it would launch two iPhones within two months, rose nearly 3 per cent in response.

The high demand — in India and across the world — is, however, likely to create a supply glitch, say analysts. Apple’s website showed delivery times pushed out to five to six weeks for the phone, compared to an initial plan of November 3. The delay might have been caused by glitches in the production schedule of the TrueDepth camera and sensor systems on the phone.

Apple spokespersons, however, continued to claim the iPhone will be available from the previously mentioned date.

“We are thrilled to take orders for iPhone X, the future of the smartphone,” said a spokesperson in a statement about the response to pre-booking launch. “We’re working hard to get this revolutionary new product into the hands of every customer who wants one, as quickly as possible. iPhone X will be available on Friday, November 3 from our carrier and retailer partners around the world.”

Apple launched iPhone X as a celebratory offering for the 10th year of the iconic iPhone that made the company a global behemoth. It has advanced facial recognition software to replace the current fingerprint readers that unlock smartphones.

Online retailers Flipkart and Amazon started accepting pre-booking orders for iPhone X in India. They were out of stock within 15 minutes of the launch.

“The demand for the iPhone 8 is softer than the previous two generations but high demand for the iPhone X may outpace supply. People who can afford it would rather wait for the higher version. Additionally, the new international warranty means people can essentially buy their phones from US itself,” said Tarun Pathak, analyst, Counterpoint Technology Market Research.

He added while India might not have a strong impact on Apple’s global sales, the demand-supply gap might be a concern.

The starting price itself is up from Rs 64,000 plus for the iPhone 8 (64 GB) going up to a whopping Rs 1.02 lakh for the iPhone X (256GB) version. Apple has a small but loyal customer base in India that does upgrade their device with every new launch but the price points are a new high even for the premium smartphone segment where competitors like Google Pixel and Samsung are expected to tread carefully.

The international warranty will allow Apple customers to get support for their phones irrespective of where it was bought from. However, the warranty is limited to factory unlocked phones and not for carrier unlocked phones (which come at a cheaper price but have carrier fees added).

Faisal Kawoosa, general manager, telecoms and semitronics at CyberMedia Research, said the “super premium” price range is not likely to become a trend very soon. 

“Only Apple can afford to place itself in this price range (because of the brand value) and it might not become a trend very soon given that there is little option in this category,” he said. Google’s new range of Pixel 2 and 2XL phones range between Rs 61,000 to Rs 82,000 in India.

Kawoosa added regular premium iPhone customers will see more value in the iPhone X as they regularly upgrade to newer versions. 

Consumers looking to enter the premium smartphone user base are more likely to deviate towards iPhone 8. The additional bundled offers from the likes of Airtel and Reliance, coupled with a cash-back offer by online retailers, will be attractive for this segment. 

Between Pixel and iPhone, analysts expect iPhone to emerge a clear winner in Indian markets given that Pixel hasn’t received favourable reviews on design and hardware and iPhone is the “aspirational” choice. 

“As for iPhone 8, it will remain squeezed between the iPhone 7 and X because of the feature and price point. Given that online retailers are also providing a number of offers on the iPhone, they will see good traction,” said Niel Shah, analyst, Counterpoint Technology Market Research.

The actual data on pre-booking sales will not be available until later next month.  

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