Why the iPhone 8 makes the iPhone X a tougher sell

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The iPhone 8 Plus, left,
and the iPhone X

Hollis
Johnson


  • Despite fears around supply shortages, you can still
    get the new iPhone X in about 5-6 weeks.
  • iPhone X demand may have been tempered by the bevy of
    available iPhone options, especially the new iPhone 8.
  • For prospective buyers, it’s difficult to value
    the price difference between the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, since
    both phones are so similar under the hood and most people have
    yet to try the iPhone X.

 

For months, analysts studying Apple and its supply chain have
been saying “good
luck finding the iPhone X
” when it launches in November. Yet,
despite demand for the phone being “off
the charts
” according to Apple CEO Tim Cook, you can still
order an iPhone X right now and get it before the end of
2017.

As of October 31 — four days after pre-orders kicked off — you
can expect to receive most iPhone X models in about 5-6 weeks.

We may never know how well the iPhone X is selling is compared to
other iPhone models — Apple stopped reporting pre-orders and
first-weekend iPhone sales back in 2014 — but it does make one
wonder: Is the presence of the new iPhone 8 affecting demand for
the also-new iPhone X?

More options than ever before 

The iPhone has been around for 10 years now, but Apple has
changed a lot in the past decade.

For many years, people had two options when it came to buying an
iPhone: Buy the newest model, or buy the prior-year model. This
made it a pretty easy pitch to consumers: You can save $100 and
get last year’s iPhone, or spend $100 more to get the latest and
greatest. And who doesn’t want the latest and greatest? 

Now, prospective iPhone customers have a
ton of options
. As of October 31, you can choose
between:

– The iPhone SE, starting at $350

– The iPhone 6S, starting at $450

– The iPhone 6S Plus, starting at $550

– The iPhone 7, starting at $550

– The iPhone 7 Plus, starting at $670

– The iPhone 8, starting at $700

– The iPhone 8 Plus, starting at $800

– And the iPhone X, starting at $1,000

That’s at least eight different iPhone models to choose from, at
an array of price points — and the final three iPhones on that
list can all be considered “new.”


iPhone SE
The iPhone SE has the
power of the iPhone 6s, inside the body of an iPhone
5S.

Apple

Let me be clear: For consumers, this is a very good
thing
. More choice leads to more competition, which drives
down prices, which makes everyone happy. Plus, as we’ve written
about many times before, the biggest selling points of these
phones versus others tend to boil down to software, and all of
these phones run iOS 11 and share many of the same great
features.

That said, the multitude of options makes it harder for Apple to
entice consumers into buying the “latest and greatest phone,”
which it did successfully for many years.

Simply put, nobody needs to bite the bullet anymore. You
can own an excellent iPhone this year without shelling out $1,000
for the latest model.

But the presence of the iPhone 8, specifically, seems to make the
iPhone X a tougher sell.

iPhone X = increased risk + increased cost

I’m going to break the fourth wall for a minute. I hope you don’t
mind.

Over the past month, I’ve written two different stories offering
reasons to buy one iPhone model over the other. But there is a
clear discrepancy in interest between the two stories.


iphone x 8 cmsDave Smith/Business Insider


iphone x 8 cmsDave Smith/Business Insider

Of course, there are various contributing factors at play here —
the timing of each article published, for example, and the fact
the iPhone X isn’t in the wild just yet. But to me, it shows that
people are clearly looking for any reason to save money when it
comes to their new iPhone purchase, which makes perfect sense.

My colleague Lauren Lyons Cole recently changed her mind and

decided to get the iPhone 8 instead of the iPhone X
. Business
Insider CEO Henry Blodget agreed
with Lauren’s takeaway, saying it “seems like the iPhone 8 Plus
is the best option.”

The iPhone 8 and iPhone X are
extremely similar phones on paper
, but choosing to buy an
iPhone X right now means being okay with both increased cost
and increased risk.


iPhone XHollis Johnson

The iPhone X’s starting price is $200 more than the iPhone 8, so
you’d really have to value what that price increase means — and
that’s especially hard to do if you’ve never tried the phone
before (most people haven’t), and especially true for people who
don’t really know what the differentiating features are.

Even if you’re completely aware of the differences between the
iPhone 8 and iPhone X, you haven’t tried living with the phone
yet. It’s a completely new experience, from the shape of the
phone itself to the way you interact with it.

You can watch all the YouTube videos you want; you are
essentially taking a risk buying the iPhone X without trying it
first.


iPhone X
There’s no home button on
the iPhone X.

Hollis
Johnson


Meanwhile, the iPhone 8 provides a very familiar, almost safe
experience. If you’ve owned an iPhone 6, 6S, or 7, you’ll feel
right at home with the 8. It’s the same look, shape and feel as
those phones, with its “new” features — wireless charging, fast
charging, and a faster processor — mostly under the hood.

The iPhone 8 provides an easy way out for people looking to get a
new iPhone, but are sheepish about the iPhone X.

The iPhone 8 will almost certainly affect iPhone X sales in some
way, but to be clear, the takeaway here is not “Apple is doomed.”
Far from it: The iPhone business is still extremely strong, and
Apple still wins every time someone buys an iPhone, even if it’s
not the iPhone X. This may well have been Apple’s strategy for
2017, given all the supply-related fears for this particularly
new phone — the first iPhone with an OLED display, the first with
Apple’s new TrueDepth camera system, etc. But it will certainly
be interesting to see how Apple changes its iPhone lineup in
2018, if it wants to push another one of these iPhone “super
cycles
” where everyone upgrades to the new technology.

Having choices is certainly good for consumers, but it’s unclear
how other, cheaper iPhones may affect the excitement around
future iPhone launches. New iPhones still set the tone for the
smartphone industry at large, but people no longer need to
upgrade to the “latest and greatest” anymore.





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