The sight of thousands of Apple-obsessed fans working themselves up into a frenzy and lining up around the block in order to get their hands on the latest iPhone is nothing new; the annual iPhone launch is as much a date in some people’s calendars as their birthday.
Analysts, however, are expecting sales of the iPhone X, Apple’s 10th anniversary model, and iPhone 8, launched amid the usual fanfare on Tuesday, to buck the trend of a recent fall in sales.
“We are expecting to see a growth this year over sales in 2016. Last year’s sales were down against 2015,” Anshul Gupta, research director of Gartner, a research and advisory company, told Arab News.
“We see this growth as being down to sales of the new iPhone 10 and 8, not least because sales of the iPhone in the first half of the year were down on the first half of 2016.”
For Gupta, the lower sales earlier this year and expected rise in sales during the second half of 2017 can be explained by fans being prepared to wait for the iPhone X rather than upgrade to the iPhone 7, which was released a year ago.
“There were rumors in the market about what the new features were going to be, and people knew there was going to be a 10th anniversary model,” Gupta said.
“So they waited for the significant upgrade. Pent-up expectations were building ahead of the launch and we anticipate this will lead to better second-half sales.”
That view was echoed by Nilesh Khalklho, CEO of Sharaf DG, who claims the excitement caused by the new models is twofold. First, the idea that the iPhone X is a significant departure from the previous models, and second, because customers in the UAE always love Apple devices.
“The new iPhone X is the all-new premium launch which has some amazing new features. We see this being a big draw for UAE residents who always like to go for the latest, cutting edge devices,” Khalklho said.
“The iPhone has been one of the most popular phones in the UAE for many years now.”
However, one analyst, while expecting strong sales of the latest iPhones, is predicting tough times for Apple beyond this latest launch.
Other than the wireless charging, the all-screen design and supposed longer battery life, the one common thing remarked upon about the iPhone 10 is the price: An eye-watering, gulp-inducing $999-plus.
For Brand Finance CEO, David Haigh, that could prove to be the iPhone’s undoing looking beyond last-quarter sales.
“Thanks to the new launch, the coming months will probably bring a surge in Apple’s sales, but the brand is going to struggle to retain its position in the long run,” Haigh told Arab News.
“Apple products remain status symbols in the Gulf. There is no doubt that many early adopters in the region will book their delivery of the new iPhone X or Apple Watch as soon as they become available.
“However, with the advent of cheaper handsets from brands like Huawei, whose success is particularly fueled by growth in emerging markets such as the Middle East, Apple’s increasing focus on what are effectively luxury products may ultimately cost the brand a large share of the mass market.
“Brand value depends on the topline figures and if Apple fails to boost revenues in key markets such as the Gulf, its brand value will continue to fall.”
But while Apple may need to worry about the long term due its pricing structure, Kutaiba Edrees, store manager at iStyle in Riyadh, foresees no problem with the price of the iPhone X.
“We are expecting very good sales of the iPhone X,” Edrees said.
“The price is not a problem, it will sell at around SR5,000 ($1,333) and that is not a problem for our customers, they love Apple and they love the iPhone. It is very popular in Saudi Arabia.”
He did, however, anticipate a marked difference in sales between the anniversary iPhone X and the iPhone 8.
“We expect the iPhone 10 to sell very well, but the iPhone 8 not so much. The 10 is completely new, new design, everything is new.
“The 8 on the other hand is very similar to the 7, the same design as 7, and the 6s.”