There has been much speculation about Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) potentially delaying the launch of its upcoming iPhone 8. For example, a recent report from Economic Daily News (covered here) suggested that technical issues could lead to pushing its launch to either October or November.
In a new report, this time from longtime Apple bull Brian White with Drexel Hamilton (by way of Barron's), White offers up some insight into Apple's potential iPhone 8 launch plans and when customers will be able to get the devices.
The several-week itch
White says that a "contact" of his, presumably in the Apple supply chain, believes that "customers will be able to pre-order the new 5.8-inch iPhone 8 along with the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone 8 in September."
That's the good news. The bummer, though, is that the 5.8-inch iPhone will reportedly "not be available for delivery until several weeks later."
What's just as interesting as this potential availability story is that White's supply chain work in Asia apparently led him to learn that "the buzz in Taiwan is around the iPhone 8 and not the Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+," and that his team "found no enthusiasm at all around the new Samsung devices during [its] trip, nor concerns from competitors."
In other words, all eyes are on Apple's upcoming premium iPhone.
What does this mean for Apple's business?
In my previous article linked above, I argued that Apple still ought to announce the new iPhone 8 alongside the iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus, even if it takes a while for Apple to get them delivered into customer hands.
It appears that Apple is doing just that, and I think that this course of action will serve to minimize the potential negative impact from the OLED iPhone 8 availability delays.
What investors will need to get a better handle on, though, is how long that availability delay will ultimately turn out to be. The dictionary definition of "several" is "more than two but not many."
So, if initial iPhone 8 customers are looking at, say, a three- to four-week lag between ordering and product delivery, then that's not really a big deal. If the iPhone 8 is as compelling as it appears to be, that's not a terribly long wait in the scheme of things.
They key thing for Apple now will be to make sure that once it begins delivering these phones to customers, it's not delivering them in a trickle. That is, once it begins delivering phones, it needs to deliver them in consistently massive quantities.
Of course, there's no guarantee that with robust supply that Apple won't still face a supply/demand imbalance -- after all, if demand is simply more than Apple can handle, then it will necessarily face an imbalance.
Here's something to keep in mind, though. If Apple churns out a healthy supply of these new iPhone 8 devices and still sees demand exceed supply, then that's just a phenomenally good thing for Apple, as it would mean that it has built an extremely desirable product. Given the difficulties that Apple saw during the iPhone 6s cycle, proof that a great, feature-packed phone can drive substantial sales growth would help improve investor sentiment around Apple stock.