IDC: The iPhone X ‘sticks the landing’ in its launch quarter

Two caveats: 1) It launched 1/3 into the Christmas quarter and 2) it exited the quarter with a ton of excess inventory.

From a note to clients by Wells Fargo’s Aaron Rakers that landed in my inbox Sunday:

Late Friday night IDC published its detailed estimates for smartphone shipments for the December quarter. We think it is important to note, like Apple, IDC reports shipments on a sell-in basis (i.e., reflects Apple’s 3.8M+ seq. iPhone channel inventory build).

Rakers’ takeaways include:

  • iPhone X shipments in the December quarter were 26.9MM; accounting for 35% of total shipments in C4Q17. Despite less than a full quarter of availability, iPhone X was the highest selling model in the September + December quarters, accounting for 22% of total shipments. We would highlight that this compares to IDC’s estimate of iPhone 8 Plus shipments in the September + December quarters of 19.8MM units; see table below.
  • IDC’s estimates show the U.S. accounted for the most iPhone X shipments at 10.8MM, or 40% of total iPhone X shipments. This was followed by Mainland China at 5.2MM and Japan at 2.4MM…
  • While the mix of iPhone X was a significant driver to blended ASP during the quarter, we would highlight 30% of shipments were 256GB capacity option, up from 16% in the prior quarter. For iPhone X, IDC estimates 256GB accounted for 41% of shipments. We estimate average iPhone capacity during the December quarter reached a record 121GB/iPhone, up from 96GB and 86GB in the prior and year ago period. Total NAND flash capacity shipped of 9.4EBs, up 40% yr/yr and compares to 4.5EBs in the prior quarter. This implies the iPhone consumed approximately 20% of total NAND Flash bits in 4Q17.

Here’s the table mentioned in Rakers’ first takeaway:

Click to enlarge. 

My take: I wish I knew where IDC gets these numbers.

Correction: An earlier version had a misleading headline that suggested the iPhone X was faster “out of the gate” than any other model. Several friends-of-the-blog called BS on that one. As Superfan13 put it in a tweet:

That chart is a silly comparison. Launch “quarter” for all other iPhones was 1-3 weeks of shipments. IPhone X was on the market for 2 months in it’s launch “quarter.”


  1. Jonathan Mackenzie said:

    Yeah, I don’t know what to make of that. The iPhone X’s initial qtr was the big holiday qtr. It would need to sell every bit as well over the next qtr (calendar q1) to compete with the iPhone 6 and 6s, which I don’t think is likely.

    In short I this this chart reflects the advantage the iPhone X got by launching in the holiday qtr. I doubt the trend will hold.

    February 11, 2018
    • You’re right, Jonathan. My bad. I’ve recast the headline and added the caveats. Gave credit to Superfan13 because he caught it first.

      February 12, 2018
  2. Gregg Thurman said:

    I remember when Apple announced Chinese carriers would offer the iPhone. The nattering nabobs of negativity we’re all over themselves with comments that the iPhone n China would be a failure because the Chinese were too poor to buy one

    Look at their “forecasts” now.

    The same thing will happen in India.

    February 12, 2018
    • Jonathan Mackenzie said:

      I agree. You can see in the chart that the 5s had pretty steady sales out to 14 quarters. I think the iPhone 8 will make a great base model as it ages down the price ladder. Apple is is just getting warmed up in India.

      February 12, 2018
    • David Drinkwater said:

      I think the India thing is overlooked, myself. (I am assuming that that is “agreement”.) 1.4 billion Chinese people on this earth. 1.1 billion Indian (asian indian) people on this earth (and growing fast!). Next up, the good ole USA with less than 0.4 billion people.

      It’s really simple: even if the “typical” customers from India can’t afford an iPhone, it doesn’t matter: if 5% of potential customers from India choose an iPhone, they will still swamp the current base of American customers who buy an iPhone.

      It’s a nice potential future problem to have.

      February 12, 2018

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