Apple shares are down nearly 3 percent on Tuesday, following a report that the company is planning to slash forecasts for iPhone X sales in the first quarter of 2018. A report from Taiwan’s Economic Daily suggests that Apple will cut forecasts to 30 million units, down from 50 million. If true, that’s going to be a huge blow for Apple, and investors who were expecting a “super-cycle” of iPhone X sales.
But things are only getting worse for Apple, as South Korean paper ET News is reporting that Samsung will release the Galaxy S9 a little earlier than expected next year.
ET News says that Samsung has already placed orders for parts for the Galaxy S9, with production expected to begin in January. We already know that Samsung is planning to unveil the Galaxy S9 and S9+ at Mobile World Congress, which takes place in Spain starting February 26th. The news, though, is that Samsung is planning to forgoe the traditional month-long pre-order phase, and will instead have the device on general sale come early March.
Simply put, that’s awful news for Apple. The iPhone X is the undisputed king of the phone market right now, and no Android device is expected to truly challenge it until the Galaxy S9 comes along next year. Normally, the current-gen iPhone and next-gen Samsung device don’t compete too much; there’s traditionally been a six-month gap between the launch of the iPhone and the next Galaxy device coming out, meaning that most people who want to buy an iPhone have already done so by the time that the next Galaxy comes along.
But that’s not going to be the case this year. The iPhone X launched in November, a month later than usual, and supply was unusually bad. It was virtually impossible to find a phone on launch day, and Apple stores only started getting a consistent supply a week or two ago.
Apple has thus been low-key relying on a strong first quarter of iPhone X sales to really make the most of its major new flagship launch. Wireless carriers, which make up the bulk of handset sales, have been publicly saying for months that they expect strong iPhone X demand for Q1 2018.
That could all be messed up if Samsung launches early. An unveil in late February means that Apple will only get another 6 weeks of uncontested iPhone X sales before all the adverts and promotion for the new Galaxy S9 comes along. With expectations for iPhone X sales already sky-high, the absolute last thing that Apple needs is any more competition.