The launch of the iPhone 9 – AKA the iPhone SE 2 – is said to be happening at the end of the March. And it couldn’t have come at a better time…
Apple makes billions of dollars every single quarter and the vast majority of this money is generated by its iPhone business. Things like its Mac division, iPads, and accessories like its AirPods as well as its software make billions too. But mostly its iPhone; the iPhone is Apple’s cash cow. And it has been for years.
But here’s the thing: Apple’s iPhone isn’t selling as well as it once was, and the reason for this isn’t complicated: it’s the price.
Find more statistics at Statista
This is why Apple’s iPhone XR outsold the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. It is also why the iPhone 11 outsells the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max. What’s the common denominator here? It’s the price of the phone.
“Apple had a challenging first quarter as shipments dropped to 36.4 million units representing a staggering 30.2% decline from last year,” notes IDC. “The iPhone struggled to win over consumers in most major markets as competitors continue to eat away at Apple’s market share.”
People don’t seem to like or want to pay $1000 for a phone.
Flagships Are Too Expensive
And you know what? They never did – $1000 for a phone was too much in 2018 and it is still too much in 2020. But this hasn’t stopped multiple handset makers – notably Samsung and Huawei – churning out $2000 foldable phones in a bid to excite customers into parting with more and more money in 2020.
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It will not work; less than 1% of the consumers out there will buy foldable phones. And, again, the reason is simple: foldable phones cost WAY too much. And I think Apple knows this which is why it hasn’t officially entered the foldable fray with a product of its own. That and the fact that foldables (and demand for them) are completely untested.
$1000+ Phones Are Killing Flagship Sales
Essentially, nothing exciting (re: sales and growth) is happening at the high-end of the market. Consumers are increasingly looking for value for money and there are now plenty of Chinese brands catering to that exact requirement – think OnePlus, Xiaomi, Huawei, and OPPO. Why would you pay $1000 for OLED displays and triple-lens cameras when you can get it for $400-$500? Spoiler: you wouldn’t!
If the majority of consumers out there want value for money, and the cheapest phone you sell retails for $700, you’re NOT catering to market demands. This fact is now abundantly clear to Apple; it cannot expect to continue posting growth without having a truly accessible phone on the market. And this is where the iPhone 9 release comes into play. It will be Apple’s “everyman” phone – the phone that 90% of people can afford.
iPhone 9 Price Will Be Key Driver of Sales
Do you need an OLED display and a triple-lens camera? Or would you prefer a cheaper phone with excellent performance, great software, and a decent battery life? Looking at Apple’s 2019 sales, it’s pretty obvious that most people care more about the latter – they want an iPhone, but they aren’t too fussed about the premium features you get on Apple’s Pro models. This is why the iPhone XR accounted for 48% of total iPhone sales in 2019.
This happened in 2018 too. And it happened again in 2019, with the iPhone 11 vs the iPhone 11 Pro Max. Logically, we can expect this trend to happen again when Apple’s iPhone 12 range comes to the market. Again, there will be three models – a cheap(ish) one, a pro one, and an ultra-pro one. All will have 5G too. But the difference this time around is that by the time the iPhone 12 range arrives, the iPhone 9 will have been on market for around 6 months.
Will iPhone 9 Sales Beat iPhone 12 Sales?
I’m not a betting man, but I’d be willing to wager that if Apple released a $399.99 iPhone 9 in early 2020, that phone would go on to become not only the fastest-selling iPhone of all time but also the most popular iPhone option for 2020 and beyond. And it would do all of this even if it launched without 5G, triple-lens cameras, and an OLED display. This is the power of price; it trumps basically everything else, including arbitrary specs and features like 5G.
Rumoured iPhone 9 Specs:
- 4.7in display
- A13 chip
- 3GB of RAM
- 64GB of internal storage
- Space Grey, Red and Silver finishes
- Priced from $399
Think about how successful Google’s Pixel 3a handset was. It launched and within months it had become the best-selling Google Pixel phone of all time. Now, imagine that happening with an iPhone? It’d basically be the Google Pixel 3a 1000X’d. And it is this reason why the iPhone 9 is so important to Apple’s future growth and profitability. It needs this phone almost as badly as consumers want it – and that scenario rarely happens in Apple’s world.
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.