Welcome to Rumor Has It, an occasional series where we address a rumor (or another happening) with some old-fashioned, level-headed explaining from our own perspective.
Rumor Has It… that Apple will discontinue the iPhone X, which has sparked a lot of speculation that Apple’s first “full screen” iPhone hasn’t been as successful as many have anticipated.
What’s Happening: Headlines are pounding the web that Apple has “already discontinued” the hot-ticket iPhone X, due to reports from Ming-Chi Kuo, a supply chain analyst who has a track record of correctly predicting Apple’s business decisions. Kuo has cultivated a deep network of inside sources at the companies that build components for the iPhone.
Common Sense: It’s important to note that in the context of this rumor, “discontinued” may simply mean Apple has satisfied production needs (read: made as many as they think they’ll sell). It likely does not mean that Apple will stop selling iPhone X immediately, which is how it could be read. The two are very different.
What It Means: This rumor just means that Apple may have decided to move on and start producing the “next iPhone X.” The Cupertino company may have decided that it has produced enough iPhone Xs already, or that it just doesn’t want to continue spending money on a soon-to-be-antiquated product due to its complexity and component costs. There are infinite reasons that Apple may have made this decision — including yes, lackluster sales. But, and this is a big “but,” don’t ignore the fact that Apple still predicts selling 18 million iPhone X’s in the first quarter of 2018 alongside a new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.
How It Affects You (and Your New iPhone X): It probably doesn’t. That is, unless you’re reading this while holding an unsigned contract to supply Apple with more OLED screens for the current iPhone X or you’re about to go live with your new iPhone X case on Kickstarter.
Awesome things get discontinued all the time. In my opinion, the iPhone 5s was one of the best iPhones that Apple ever produced, at least from an industrial design perspective. Remember those sexy chamfered aluminum edges? Well, that phone was discontinued a year later and, in hindsight, no one cared. Apple isn’t a very sentimental company when it comes to moving forward with their products (floppy drives, headphone ports, buttons, etc) and they’ve built an empire upon that type of thinking.
For customers, though, iPhones are treated increasingly like leased cars — after one, two or three years, buyers move on to the next thing. The iPhone X you just purchased is no worse or better because it may be discontinued. By this fall, you’ll be reading about the next iPhone and checking to see when you’re eligible for an upgrade.
Is The iPhone X a Flop? Nope. Again, at the echelons Apple is operating, which are unfathomably complex, production timelines are not simple matters to be decided upon lightly. Apple has to carefully time when they produce products, creating just enough stock to carry them through the release of the next iPhone. This particular rumor takes into account reports of soft sales in China. Apple must also take into account myriad global variables including the complexity of producing ring complex components like the OLED Screen and TrueDepth camera at massive scale.
Upshot: Even if this rumor is true, it won’t matter to most people. After all, this is technology, and everything gets discontinued at some point. But be smart and remember “discontinued production” and “no longer selling” are two entirely different things. Go enjoy your iPhone X and remember, we’re always down for a good game of Scrabble.