Fall is supposed to be the best season for apples. However, the pickin’s look a little slim from Apple this week. Reception of the iPhone 8 has been underwhelming, with Huawei’s projected sales actually surpassing Apple’s in China for the first time. Investors are realizing they may need to take off their rose-colored glasses when it comes to their Apple predictions, although others remain confident. The good news: Apple Pay Cash seems to be on track for a late October rollout, and a recent startup acquisition could make the Photos app even better.
Apple is reportedly testing Apple Pay Cash internally. The feature was not rolled out with iOS 11 last month, but has rolled out in beta form to developers running iOS 11.1, 9to5Mac said.
Apple’s person-to-person (P2P) payment service will allow customers to securely send and receive money between friends and family members in their network using iMessage. Users who set up the feature will also get a virtual Apple Pay Cash card that can be used online and in stores wherever Apple Pay is accepted.
8 Isn’t Great
The iPhones 8, 8 Plus and X are not drumming up as much interest as last year’s iPhone 7 release, according to an RBC Capital Markets survey. 64 percent of respondents said they wanted to buy one of the new devices – which is still a good chunk, but not quite as good of a chunk as the 71 percent who said they would buy last year’s new device.
RBC said this was likely because Apple had not phased out the iPhone 6s, leaving more options on the table for consumers. Apple typically phases out an older-generation iPhone when a new version becomes available. However, more than half of those who said want the new device also said they are planning to get the version with more storage, which means higher prices and sustained profits for Apple.
Apple has acquired French startup Regaind, possibly to help enhance the intelligent search function within its iPhone Photos app. The app already groups images into albums based on dates, locations, events, and subjects, but the smaller technology company could help make the sorting process even more granular and ensure that those memorial albums feature the best possible photos.
Regaind can analyze faces to determine gender, age and emotion. Plus, it can pull out the best individual frame captured during a photo burst. Although the iPhone X is set to launch next month, it is unclear whether the new Face ID tool that will be used to unlock the phone sits on any elements of Regaind technology.
One For The Home Team
Smartphone maker Huawei has edged out Apple in its home country of China, where only 24.2 percent of consumers said they planned to make their next phone an iPhone, according to a recent study. That’s down from 25.8 percent when the iPhone 7 launched. By comparison, 31.4 percent of survey respondents said they planned to choose a Huawei phone for their next handset.
Price is likely a key factor in declining interest. In China, comparative products are retailing for $300 to $450, while the iPhone 8 doubles that and the iPhone X will more than triple it, at $999 for the base model. Plus, according to analysts, Chinese consumers desire smartphones that stand out visually from previous versions, which the iPhone 8 does not. Why pay more for a phone that looks just like the one they already have? It looks like the answer for many is: Don’t.
Rein It In
It’s looking like investors may have been a little too optimistic when making estimates on the latest iPhone cycle. While the last upgrade cycle brought in sales $31 billion above projections, doing so a second time would require Apple to sell 45 million more iPhone units than anticipated for a total of 290 million devices. That seems unlikely to happen, since the tech giant has slashed component delivery orders to 40 percent of their original quantity.
Indeed, Fortune doesn’t seem to think Apple has much of a growth trajectory ahead, based on the lack of consistent earnings growth the company has displayed over the past four years. The company has moved past the growth phase and into maturity, where capital expenditures roughly match the earnings coming in and are largely being directed toward “maintenance” expenditures rather than new growth.
Fortune also noted that despite spending $12 billion per year on research – twice as much as four years ago – Apple has not been churning out the kinds of “hit” products that send earnings through the roof again and again. No one’s saying to sell your Apple stocks, but it may be time to see the tech giant for what it has become: not a “Cupertino Colossus” any longer as much as a good old, reliable cash cow.
On the other hand, Seeking Alpha is predicting 16.2 percent growth – not from unit sales, but greater average selling prices, which are set to average around $770 in fiscal 2018 – about $100 higher than the current average iPhone price.