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Comment: The suggestion of a constrained iPhone 8 launch in September seems credible to me

We’ve been hearing all kinds of speculation about when the iPhone 8 might go on sale. I think we’ve now had at least one guesstimate for every month from October through to January of next year.

But JP Morgan yesterday suggested that the iPhone 8 (or iPhone Pro, as they dub it) will appear on time in September, just in constrained volumes. Specifically, JP Morgan predicts that around 2M units will be available in September.

To me, this seems the most credible of all the reports to date …

Apple benefits from two peaks in sales of new iPhone models. The first, obviously, as soon as they go on sale. The second in the run-up to the holidays, when they are bought as gifts.

If an iPhone is delayed, that’s no great problem in terms of those who buy it at launch – Apple sells the same number of phones to the same people whatever the date. But if launch were pushed closer to the holidays, and supplies were still heavily constrained at that point, it risks losing some chunk of those sales as people buy something else instead. Maybe the giftee buys their own iPhone 8 afterwards anyway, but maybe not. It’s a risk.

What JP Morgan predicts, however, is that Apple will have heavily constrained sales in September and achieve target output by early November. That’s a schedule that not only holds no risk for Apple but may even work to its benefit.

Why? Because constrained supplies will create buzz and allow time for sticker shock to wear off.

Let’s start with price.

If estimates are correct, the iPhone 8 isn’t going to have an entry price much below $999, with estimates of the top storage tier in the $1200-1400 range. That’s a lot of money to spend on a phone.

Even among 9to5Mac readers, there’s a reluctance to spend that much. In our poll, just 7% of you were willing to spend $1199 and up, and only 9% more would spend $1099. The greatest proportion of you – some 48% – said you’d pay less than $999.

Of course, someone saying they won’t spend the money, and actually resisting once the phone launches, are two entirely different things. But that level of hesitancy among people you’d expect to be front of the queue does suggest that price is going to be a deterrent. Many are likely to want to take time to think about it – or wait until reviews, ads, AR apps and reports from early adopters have combined to talk them into it.

Which brings us to buzz.

You and I are of course following every rumor and report, but there’s a huge chasm between Apple/tech enthusiasts and the average iPhone buyer in the street.

Normal people are expecting a new iPhone this year as every year, and non-specialist media reports may have given them the idea that there’s something special in the works, but that’s really as much as they know.

A near-bezel-free design is going to create a buzz on its own, especially if the phone does indeed have Touch ID embedded into the display. I’m sure Apple will also go to town on augmented reality, and that this will get plenty of play in the mass media.

But normals are, I think, still going to ask themselves two questions. Do I really want to spend a thousand bucks plus on a phone? And what the heck will I do with this augmented reality stuff?

Hearing that the iPhone 8 is so popular that it’s out of stock everywhere, and it could be a month or more before they can get their hands on one, could be the factor that tips them over into thinking that it must, after all, be worth it. Nothing sells like scarcity.

So constrained supplies at launch, with supply catching up with demand well before the holidays, is a formula that could work out very nicely.

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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