Ahead of the launch of the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone X, the company's flagship smartphone model, there was a widespread belief that Apple would ship a lot of iPhone X models during calendar year 2017 but that demand would be so high it wouldn't reach supply to-demand balance on the iPhone X until sometime in the first half of 2018.
The reality, at least with respect to supply to-demand balance, seems to be different. Apple appeared to reach supply to-demand balance for the iPhone X earlier this month.
Now, reaching supply to-demand balance earlier than expected isn't necessarily a negative -- it could indicate that Apple was able to resolve production bottlenecks and significantly boost manufacturing output of the device.
However, if Apple reached supply to-demand balance because demand simply wasn't as strong as expected, then that'd be a negative for Apple.
According to a new report from DigiTimes, demand for the iPhone X -- at least in some important regions -- appears to have fallen short of expectations.
iPhone X shipment numbers
DigiTimes, citing "sources from the semiconductor packaging and testing service industry," says Apple will ship between 30 million and 35 million iPhone X models during the fourth quarter of 2017.
This does seem to indicate that Apple shipped significantly more iPhone X units than some originally expected. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, for example, said back in late November that he expected Apple to ship between 25 million and 30 million units of the iPhone X during the fourth quarter of 2017.
However, DigiTimes' sources don't seem to be as sanguine about iPhone X demand. "The sources pointed out that pre-orders for the iPhone X in a number of markets such as Taiwan, the U.S., and Singapore are not as strong as expected," DigiTimes reports.
Perhaps iPhone demand in those regions is lower than expected, or maybe potential iPhone buyers in those regions opted for Apple's iPhone 8-series models instead.
Moving on, DigiTimes' sources also claim that iPhone X shipments are expected to "stay flat or drop slightly in the first quarter of 2018."
It's worth pointing out that during the first quarter of 2017, which would roughly coincide with the second quarter of Apple's fiscal year 2017, Apple shipped 50.76 million iPhones -- down from 78.3 million iPhones in the prior quarter.
If Apple manages to sell between 30 million and 35 million iPhone X phones during the the second quarter of its fiscal year 2018 then those shipments, coupled with sales of older models, could lead Apple to post a decent amount of year-over-year iPhone unit growth.
Perhaps more importantly, though, since the iPhone X carries a significantly higher average selling price than anything Apple was selling a year ago, Apple could post significant iPhone revenue growth.
So even if iPhone X demand won't be as high as some might've expected and/or hoped, if the DigiTimes article is right, Apple should still enjoy solid performance in its iPhone business during the first two quarters of its fiscal 2018.
Ashraf Eassa has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple and short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.