So, finally, it’s here. Apple’s iPhone X has arrived with all the pomp and grandiosity of a Persian emperor. But is the Cupertino company’s latest offering–which marks a decade, improbably, since the first iPhone–a market misstep?
200 million people buy an iPhone each year. It is still the world’s most popular smartphone, followed by Samsung’s Galaxy line. The X (pronounced ‘ten’, of course) is packed with features and gadgetry that will delight gizmo-hungry first movers.
There’s facial recognition, which can detect when the phone’s owner is looking at it, an OLED screen (made by Samsung), an A11 bionic chip, and ‘Animoji’, with which users can turn themselves into a talking unicorn, or poo, emoji. The X has dispensed with the famous home button, too, which has annoyed some dyed-in-the-wool enthusiasts, but energized many more.
But the X’s price, $999, has already prompted a wave of criticism from industry experts who feel Tim Cook and co have priced themselves into a dangerous corner, at a pivotal moment for the smartphone industry.
A recent WalletHub survey found that three quarters of respondents did not plan to buy the new iPhone. Many commenters have already singled out the iPhone 8 as a better deal. And many of the X’s new features are already in play on Android-equipped competitors.
Credit debt is already at an all-time high: will consumers decide that the X is a frivolous step too far?
And that’s just in the United States. Elsewhere, it has long been heralded, the Chinese are coming. Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi and others offer a range of cheap and feature-heavy smartphones that could topple Apple’s grip on the global market.
Huawei has long been advertising its own products hard in Europe–Red Herring even attended an ice hockey match in Minsk, Belarus, whose mascot was a Huawei panda–and, as the third-biggest seller of smartphones worldwide it is probably best placed to topple the Samsung/Apple digital diarchy.
Huawei now has $61bn in sales, and 170,000 employees worldwide. It sold around 140m smartphones in 2016, a figure it expects to surpass by some way this year. By 2018, the company has told Fortune, it expects to sell more handsets than Apple.
Huawei tops domestic smartphone sales in China with just under 21% market share, according to researcher Counterpoint. But others, such as Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi all take home a big percentage too.
Apple ranks fourth with a 10.7% share. Its opposition is leading the way. And with Chinese smartphone makers reaping more and more from developing markets in Asia and Africa each year, it is doubtful whether Apple’s push in the luxury direction will stand it in good stead for a digital revolution in massive, upcoming mobile markets like Indonesia, Nigeria and the Philippines.
By pricing its latest iPhone at more than the cost of a car in many of those nations, has Apple just missed the latest wave of the smartphone industry?