back to article X marks the Notch, where smartmobe supercycles go to die

Apple's £999 flagship iPhone X is being outsold by three-year-old models – providing further evidence that the 10th anniversary upgrade "supercycle" never happened. CIRP, a Chicago-based equities analyst specialising in providing early sales figures that have proved accurate before, has found the share of iPhone sales …

Anonymous Coward

Re: Economics

I agree, you can pick up some pretty reasonable phones for sub £200 (many now sub £150).

If you have someone like Plusnet for your broadband, you can even get a basic data allowance from £6 a month (which of course is EE under another name).

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I "bought" my S7 when new (out one month) on a £24 month contract (unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, 6GB data)

Is 6GB not "decent"? I don't tend to get near unless I have turned wifi off "by accident" (usually as a means to stop it trying to connect to use a weak network when the connection is poor, e.g. after leaving the house, getting into the car, then trying to put in an address into the sat-nav app.) and then start watching lots of YouTube, forgetting to turn it back on again.

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Re: Economics

I see your £6/month, and say my (dodgy chinese brand) phone cost £85, is IP68-rated and generally damage-resistant, dual SIM (plus SD card), and is on iD @ £5/month (including 2.25GB data with rollovers)

Not only is the package cheap, but the phone is more likely to survive my lifestyle than a £999 iPhone X. The money I save pays for the wear and tear on my trouser pocket (it's not exactly a lightweight phone...)

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"Consumers were more price-sensitive than he had assumed"

Also more hype-sensitive I'll wager...

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Anonymous Coward

supercycles

to think I expected some revolutionary design, I dunno, 10 lb total weight, lazy gun holder... all I got was the "X"! :/

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Re: supercycles

Supercycles is an established term for commodities (ores, coal, oil, etc.) which have long investment and hope for longer boom periods. It does make no sense for consumer electronics.

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They just got the supercycle timing wrong

I called this last fall. Having a single model was never going to drive a supercycle, because at least half their sales of new phones are 'plus' sized, and the starting price was too high for mass adoption. Next fall is when the supercycle of 6/6S/7 owners upgrading happens, because Apple will have three new phones (assuming rumors are true)

6.5" - bigger iPhone X

5.8" - iPhone "X+1"

6.1" - cheaper iPhone X with LCD instead of OLED

That will give people options on what to upgrade to that are mostly the same, instead of the high priced X making the 8/8 plus look outdated in form and features. They'll be able to have a starting price where the normal iPhone starting price is of $699 or perhaps $749 at most, then the "X+1" will probably be $899 instead of $999 like this year.

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Re: They just got the supercycle timing wrong

Next fall is when the supercycle of 6/6S/7 owners upgrading happens,

Or Apple decides it made a mistake and godes bag to a simpler set of phones while it waits for Samsung to develop flexible screens or other great stuff.

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Joke

Feature trickle down

Can't wait for the Notch to appear in lower priced phones (without facial recognition, of course)

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Re: Feature trickle down

The upcoming LG G7 is looking to have one so sadly no joke icon required.

I've just downgraded my mobile contract from phone+SIM to SIM-only. There is nothing in the current generation to justify the huge bump in monthly fee that the provider wants.

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Re: Feature trickle down

The Essential phone has a notch - It came out before the Iphone X, and is currently around $500.

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Re: Feature trickle down

Lots of phones are going to have notches, especially the Chinese ones. Really, I don't get the fuss - on an OLED screen the black status bar is indistinguishable from the bezel anyway. Most people most of the time don't have an entire stutus bar full of icons, leaving a black areas in the middle. Why not stick the camera and earpiece there?

Phones are getting taller (2:1 is becoming very common) to allow users to read more text with less scrolling (the upper limit on the width of the phone being constrained by hand size), so the whole notched area of the screen is beyond that covered by the common 16:9 aspect ratio for video, never mind the 4:3 output of the phone's own camera.

I just haven't read anyone make the case for the downsides of a notch other than aesthetics - which are a function of the OS and software (Apple made a deliberate decision to highlight the notch, not every version of Android does). Again, OLED screens allow the notch to be invisible when just showing the status bar.

An interesting article about lasers, specifically the challenges in cutting OLED substrates. Notches don't really add to the difficulty, since serious engineering challenges had to be overcome just to produce high doing OLEDs at smartphone sizes:

https://www.industrial-lasers.com/articles/2018/03/manufacturing-challenges-in-laser-cutting-oled-displays.html

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Re: Feature trickle down

"I just haven't read anyone make the case for the downsides of a notch other than aesthetics"

Yes, because that's the objection -- aesthetics. That's not a small thing. The notch is horrible.

In my use case anyway, it probably wouldn't matter much, assuming that I'd have some way to move the status bar down below the notch where it can take up the full width of the screen, so the "ears" would always be black. If I couldn't do that, then the notch is not just an aesthetic problem, but a functional one.

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I must be missing something

The simple bar chart indicates that Apple has gotten 16% of its buyers (same number as last year? Who knows from the graph) to buy a device that's 20 - 25% more expensive than anything they had in their line last year, while still offering a wide range of device prices. If the absolute numbers and percentage margins are similar to the previous year, then Apple is presumably making more money. I believe that's what corporations are meant to do, but I, well, might be missing something.

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Re: I must be missing something

You didn't miss anything but I think the real comparison is (X + 8 + 8 Plus) vs (7 + 7 Plus) which does show a significant decline in market share at the top end.

However, as Andrew has pointed out many times, Apple makes a shed load on any of the devices, the margins rising as the price rises. If the assessment is correct then Apple should see flat sales and profits growth. This is hardly a disaster and just confirms that the market is maturing for Apple as well.

Eyes will be on whether Apple is continuing to grow sales in the walled garden which is the new battleground: Amazaon, Netflix and Spotify are now as much competitors as Samsung and Huawei.

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Re: I must be missing something

This is the first time Apple offered three generations of iPhone. Had they not continued to sell the 6S/6S plus, some of the people who bought them might have bought used/refurbished iPhones instead of new ones, and if so the percentage of 8/8+/X purchases would have been a bit higher.

The rumors had pretty much everything Apple did leaked before their September announcement, but I don't recall anyone predicting they would keep selling the 6S/6S plus. That was a surprise, and I wonder if it was a one time thing / experiment or if they will be selling the 7/7 plus/8/8 plus alongside the three new models (they will drop the X because its replacement will already have a price cut versus the $999 it is selling for today thanks to resolving their terrible yields for the 3D sensors they were having until the end of the year)

I agree that services is going to become more and more important for them, since it is where Apple's best growth story is now that the smartphone market has no growth left (except maybe at the very low end as the remaining feature phones are driven out by ultra low end smartphones)

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Time was

that the price point for the flagships remained the same and the feature set increased.

Now the feature sets are increasing but so are the price points. With the lifecycle of the average phone being 2-4 years that's going to introduce consumer resistance. People are sticking at the same price point when they go back for another phone.

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History repeating itself

May I remind you that this is nothing new for Apple?

They had very pricey computers (the Mac II series) in the latter half of the 1980s and while the feature set went up, so did the price, until the flagship product (the IIfx) would set one back £10K and that was before the keyboard, monitor or mouse).

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Re: History repeating itself

Eventually too a lack of Imperial adornment was noted and Apple nearly went bust, being given a lifeline by Microsoft so MS could claim they did not have a desktop OS monopoly.

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Re: History repeating itself

If by 'Apple being given a lifeline by Microsoft', you mean 'Apple sued the bejesus out of Microsoft for stealing QuickTime code and won big', then you're right. http://thisdayintechhistory.com/12/06/apple-sues-over-quicktime/ and http://thisdayintechhistory.com/08/06/apple-and-microsoft-call-truce/ for more info. Officially Microsoft handed over $150 million, pocket change to both companies; unofficially, it was closer to $2 billion, which is Real Money(tm). That, and Microsoft agreed to keep supporting MSIE and MS Office on Macs for 5 years. At the end of the 5 years, MSIE for Mac was retired, to the cheers of millions, but MS Office on Mac is still around, because the Mac Business Unit, the people who code MS Office for Mac, were the single most profitable division of Microsoft on a per head basis for well over a decade and are still in the top three. Bill Gates made a _lot_ of money selling Office to Mac users. Remember always,Excel and PowerPoint started on Macs; Excel was native Microsoft, but billg bought PowerPoint.

I had a copy of the final version of MSIE for Mac, v 5.2.3. It worked, sorta, for a long time after Microsoft stopped supporting it.

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Re: History repeating itself

"If by 'Apple being given a lifeline by Microsoft', you mean 'Apple sued the bejesus out of Microsoft for stealing QuickTime code and won big', "

To be honest, it was a third party development company which stole the code (and handed it to Microsoft), and I would give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt that they didn't know it was stolen.

And I think Apple didn't actually sue Microsoft, but told them the facts, and Microsoft said "Oh shit"...

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Re: History repeating itself

I think he was referring to the time (1997) when Apple was in danger of going under, and Microsoft bailed them out by buying a bunch of stock in exchange for Apple promising to support MS Office for five years. https://www.wired.com/2009/08/dayintech_0806/

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Anonymous Coward

Re: History repeating itself

I had a copy of the final version of MSIE for Mac, v 5.2.3. It worked, sorta, for a long time after Microsoft stopped supporting it.

I've never met you, but now I want to burn you alive. Fucking MSIE 5.1/5.2 holdouts and their ridiculous rendering bugs. Young'uns today think its a pain testing on Chrome, Firefox, IE and Edge, we had MSIE 5.{0,0.1,1,1,2,5},6,7 , Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and only the last 3 really worked anything like each other.

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My problem with the latest top-end phones

My problem isn't the price. My problem is that, in terms of meeting my needs for a smartphone, the top-end phones released over the past year or two are actively inferior to those from 5 years ago.

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Re: My problem with the latest top-end phones

Curious what needs you have that phones five years ago met but today's don't? I guess if you consider a 3.5mm port a must have then Apple's latest aren't for you, but other than that what has Apple taken away? If you are an Android guy, anything that gets taken away on some models like 3.5mm, SD, removable battery, etc. are still available somewhere, you just can't get them all in the same phone if you buy a flagship.

But why would you restrict yourself to flagships? After all, if smartphones five years ago did what you want, you can't exactly complain about low end performance since today's $100 Android phone has performance that matches if not exceeds a 5 year old flagship...

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Re: My problem with the latest top-end phones

Headphone jack, sd card slot, and replaceable battery are must-haves for me in a high-end phone. If I'm paying top dollar, I am not willing to sacrifice functionality. I'd also really like to have a bezel, but that's not a showstopper.

"But why would you restrict yourself to flagships?"

Who said I do? I was just responding to the topic, which is high-end phones. There aren't any that I've found that meet my needs. Unless someone puts one on the market, when it comes time to replace my current phone, I'm going with the lowest-end phone that can run a WiFi hotspot, and carry a pocket computer to do the stuff that I currently use my phone for. It sucks that I'll have to carry two devices, but such is the state of the market.

"since today's $100 Android phone has performance that matches if not exceeds a 5 year old flagship."

I am unaware of a $100 phone that comes close to my current phone, which is a 6 year old flagship. But even if there was, a $100 phone is also missing important functionality -- just different functionality (such as a large, attractive screen, etc.)

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Re: My problem with the latest top-end phones

"my current phone, which is a 6 year old flagship"

I did the math wrong -- my phone is 5 years old, not 6.

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JDX
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Re: My problem with the latest top-end phones

So nobody makes phones with SD slots, headphone jacks and replaceable batteries? This seems unlikely.

I struggle to see why SD/battery are ironclad must-haves though, what use case makes them mandatory rather than convenient?

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Re: My problem with the latest top-end phones

"So nobody makes phones with SD slots, headphone jacks and replaceable batteries?"

Can you find a top end phone that has these?

"I struggle to see why SD/battery are ironclad must-haves though, what use case makes them mandatory rather than convenient?"

Why are you so dismissive of convenience? If I'm paying top dollar for something, convenience becomes much more important.

Then they aren't must-haves for you. I was only saying that they are for me, not that they should be for everybody. But since you're interested, here's why I consider them must-haves: I use my phone to store a lot of data (music, documents, etc.). Most phones don't come with enough storage for me, so I need to expand it. Also, it's important to me to be able to be able to transfer that data to and from the phone quickly, and nothing beats being able to remove the SD card and insert it into my desktop machine to do this.

As to battery, there are two reasons this is important to me. First, it means that I can easily replace the battery when it gets worn out. Second, it means that I can use the phone for a longer time between charges (important when I'm away for a few days) without having to lug around a battery bank. Also, it's a lot better to swap a depleted battery for a fresh one than to have to keep the phone attached to a charger for hours at a time.

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Re: My problem with the latest top-end phones

Again, why does your phone need to be "top end"? If your current phone is five years old, it is nowhere near top end or even mid range today.

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Re: My problem with the latest top-end phones

Again, I never said it did -- that's just the topic of this discussion.

That said, I'd love to have a high-performance phone, and am dismayed that I can't find any that are adequate.

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In other news

Lamborghini sold 3,815 vehicles in 2017 worldwide, while Ford sold 22,700 in the UK in January 2017 alone.

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Devil

There seems to be 2 types of commentard in here

Person A wants a cheap no nonse phone that make calls and send/receive texts and maybe a quick game of snake, and there's a nice selection pf phones for them

Person B has money and wants all the blls and whistles, theres a phone for them as well.

Person A is a grumpy old git and can't understand why person B wants to spend so much money on a phone.

Person B is too busy down the pub with his mates to care what person A thinks, plus he has friends that he can call on his phone.

Let the down votes begin.

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"Person B has money and wants all the blls and whistles, theres a phone for them as well."

I must be person C: I can afford a high-end phone, and want high-end features, but there are no phones on the market for me. The high-end phones that I see are missing one or more critically important features.

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I can see a person D category too - wants a decent phone with a decent feature set for a decent price.

You can have all your notches, curved screens etc, your latest processors and so on.

You can have your feature phones and feel superior because you "don't need" other features.

I just want something that works, lets me do what I want and that doesn't cost the earth.

I guess that makes me the phone manufacturer's worst customer. I'd still be using my perfectly capable G3 if I hadn't smashed it. I'll likely be keeping my S7 for at least another tick-tock cycle, presumably on a sim-only contract.

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JDX
Gold badge

I don't 3.5mm or SD or swappable batteries are "high end" features. The former is a standard feature they're replacing with something worse, the other two are niche features.

The idea that a top-price phone should have EVERY feature doesn't make sense in a world where slim & sleek is seen as a key feature.

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Sil

Since Apple never publishes iPhone sales by models, analysts can write whatever they want.

Unless some good soul at Apple takes the risk to send sales numbers to the press, we'll probably never know how well or how bad the different models are selling, unless we tolerate huge margins of errors.

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They extrapolate from data they get from carriers, and retail stores that sell iPhones. Maybe Apple is selling 100% iPhone X, and maybe they are selling 1% iPhone X, the analysts are just making the assumption that the product mix for people buying from Apple is the same as people buying from Verizon or Target....I doubt they are exactly the same, but I see no reason they should be wildly different.

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The line must be drawn HERE!

I'm still happy with my iPhone 6S Plus which works just fine.

Apple stopped being viable when they removed the headphone jack.

Yeah, yeah, I know that all mobile phones are going that way... but I'm not upgrading my pretty awesome cans and car stereo because Apple think they know what we want. They don't. Recent iOS upgrades tell me that they have absolutely NO idea what we want.

I've been with Apple since the 3GS, but I'll be moving over to Samsung or Huawei on my next upgrade. iPhone's have had their day, but in the grand scheme of things, they're overpriced and 2 years behind everyone else.

Apart from the notch on the iPhone X.

That was cutting edge.

I'll get me coat.

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JDX
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Re: The line must be drawn HERE!

I'm fairly sure you can get an adapter for either end of the cable phone<==>audio device. I agree this is a right PITA but for car stereo and home AV equipment this can't be that much of a problem. For headphones on the go, ugh.

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Please, please....

....don't let facts confuse El Reg: https://appleinsider.com/articles/18/04/25/apples-iphone-x-delivered-a-ko-punch-to-cheap-androids-q1-smartphone-demand-slumped-globally-but-asp-grew-by-21 .

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