In a quarter when it usually sets back and counts, Apple is in full injury control mode. It started with its Black Friday sale, which lasted four days this year instead of one. Then, the increased value of older phones when upgrading to iPhone XR or XS. And now it is straight up and tells us that there is nothing to worry about.
In an interview with CNET, Apple VP Greg Joswiak said that the iPhone XR "was our most popular iPhone every single day since the day it became available." While you can talk to the term "most popular" Joswiak made his comment on Reuters and told the publication that XR is Apple's "most common product and best selling iPhone" since Apple started selling it on October 26th.
On the surface is good news for Apple. While the iPhone XR is the cheapest of Apple's latest phones, scattered reports suggested that it was not the battle as it expected to be, and Apple's stock dropped down as a result (among other things). Now Apple says that the iPhone XR not only sells well, it sells better than any other iPhone over each of the last 33 days. But that number may not mean as much as you think.
The numbers played
Firstly, there are two iPhone XS models this year, the regular 5.8-inch model and 6.5-inch Max, both of which cost significantly more than $ 750 iPhone XR. Right outside the bat, which shares the sale of flagship phones. So while Apple can sell 30-40 million iPhone XSes for a quarter, it's split between two models, so it will not be as impressive by phone.
So let's say Apple sells 100 phones one day (lol, I know). We can assume that 30 of them are old models (iPhone 8 and 7), leaving us with 70. So let's say Apple sells 40 iPhone XS and XS Max (20 each for the sake of argument). It leaves 30 iPhones left for XR. So while technically it was outsourced every iPhone model, Apple sold more older phones and more iPhone XSes in this example. And there are a million ways to break down and get similar results.
Beyond that, the iPhone XR is significantly cheaper than XS and XS Max, so it should be the best-selling iPhone. In addition, it is a month newer. And there's not too much of a difference between them and XR either, with the cheaper model actually having a bigger screen than the iPhone XS. So what does "best selling" really mean? It's about spin, something Apple is highly adapted to. Remember, Apple can sell 80 iPhone XRs out of 100 iPhones every day, but we do not know and will never.
When Apple announced that iPhone X was the best-selling phone every week during the holiday quarter last year, it was also a guard, but it was more important. Apple tested whether customers were willing to spend a thousand dollars on an iPhone, and X's popularity showed it. Average selling price shot up, competitors ran to copy it, and chopped became an iconic symbol for Apple status.
This is not the case here. By saying that iPhone XR is the best-selling phone, Apple basically says it's not a flop. Joswiki's remarks can give good headlines and good PR, but it's not going to stop the questions about iPhone sales. It's basically all spin, so it's from now on. Since Apple will stop reporting unit sales, these types of vague sales reports are all we need to measure the success of a particular iPhone model.
And it's a reality distortion that would make Steve Jobs proud.