After 10 years of epic success selling roughly the same luxury good to the world, last year Apple decided to radically reinvent its iPhone with a totally new design, a never-before-seen Face ID system, and a four-figure price tag. The company could have just released its pair of iPhone 8 models and instantly minted a fresh $100 billion in revenue, but it opted to do more than that. The iPhone X is the biggest risk Apple has yet taken with its most important product — the most influential single product in consumer electronics history — and what’s striking to me is how casually we’ve all accepted its success. Apple fans and detractors alike both seem to have taken it for granted that the iPhone X would be as good and as well received as it has been.
Later today, Apple will issue its first quarterly financial report after the iPhone X’s release, and already there are grumblings about disappointing sales relative to Apple’s sky-high expectations. But selling fewer units of a substantially more expensive smartphone was always inevitable with the iPhone X. The effect of the sales Apple has had is more important here. Kantar Worldpanel’s latest data on mobile operating systems suggests that the X model helped Apple increase its share versus Android in some of the world’s biggest markets. Across Europe, the United States, Japan, urban China, and Australia, the iPhone X was one of the top three best-selling phones in December. Consider that this is a device whose starting price outside the US is even higher, starting at $1,400 or more, and it can inch close to $2,000 once all the necessary accessories are factored in.
If you take a cynical view and believe Apple’s business is to peddle extremely high-margin goods to a captive audience of ecosystem-locked suckers, you’re going to have to explain how and why Apple was able to gain market share against Android with this phone. Because the iterative iPhone 8 update — with its big bezels and persistent absence of a headphone jack — hasn’t been any more attractive to Android users than the preceding model. No, the thing that’s attracted outsiders is the iPhone X’s radical new look, capabilities, and, in no small part, the cachet of expensive exclusivity.
But no matter where the iPhone X’s first adopters have come from, the universal thing about them is that they’re all pleased with their purchase. This is the thing that’s different about Apple relative to its competitors in consumer electronics: Apple products consistently receive ridiculously high scores of customer satisfaction, ranking in the high 90s for everything, with the Air Pods setting a new high recently. The data isn’t out yet on the iPhone X, but everything I’ve seen and heard about the experience of owning one has been glowingly positive. I’ll allow the legendary Walt Mossberg to sum up the consumer response to the iPhone X:Read More...
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