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Apple Inc. Seemingly Catches Up With iPhone X Demand

By Ashraf Eassa - Dec 19, 2017 at 7:47PM

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This may or may not be a good thing.

Ahead of the launch of the iPhone X, there was widespread expectation that it would be a while before Apple (AAPL 1.62%) could catch up to the demand for the new device. 

The iPhone X did indeed launch later than some expected -- Apple announced the device at its Sept. 15 product launch keynote, but didn't begin taking preorders for the product until late October or start shipping it until early November. 

Apple's iPhone X.

Image source: Apple.

Shortly after it began taking preorders, Apple's website was quoting ship times for the iPhone X of between five to six weeks. This led many to believe that demand had blown far past supply and that the rumors that iPhone X supply shortages would persist into the first half of 2018 would ultimately prove true. 

It seems, though, that this isn't the case. 

Want an iPhone X?

As of Dec. 18, one can go to Apple's online store, buy a Space Gray iPhone X in either a 64GB or 256GB storage configuration, and expect to have it delivered by Dec. 20. The 64GB iPhone X in Silver seems to be a bit more popular as Apple quotes a delivery time of between Dec. 20 and Dec. 22 as well as in-store pickup on Dec. 26. 

This is a pretty solid indication that Apple has reached supply to-demand balance. Or, put another way, Apple is producing enough devices to meet the current demand. 

What does this mean for Apple?

Unfortunately, it's hard to tell whether this is good news for Apple or if it's bad news. 

If Apple has dramatically increased iPhone X production to cope with high levels of demand -- something that KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes to be the case -- then the company reaching this supply to-demand balance means that it's moving quite a lot of iPhone X devices, which should bode well for its top and bottom lines. 

However, if demand simply isn't as strong as it had expected, then investor expectations for iPhone demand for both the current quarter and perhaps for the rest of the fiscal year might be too high and could see a reset once the company reports its financial results in either late January or early February. 

At least one analyst quoted by Bloomberg thinks that the shortening iPhone X ship times could indicate that demand for the iPhone X wasn't as strong as hoped and that buyers "appear to have gravitated toward the previous iPhone models."

This would be particularly bad for Apple since the company's latest iPhones tend to be at their most popular at the beginning of a product cycle and see demand fade as the cycle progresses. Put bluntly, if iPhone X demand isn't impressive now, then it'll be even less impressive as the product cycle progresses barring, say, a significant price cut. 

Ultimately, we're going to have to wait for Apple to report its financial results before we can get a sense of the demand it's seeing for the iPhone X as well as for its iPhone products in aggregate. 

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