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?
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?
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.