Apple once again appears to have upsold the world to the iPhone 15 Pro Max, and while demand once again exceeded supply when orders began Friday, somewhere in Cupertino the bubbly was likely flowing as the company's initial stockpile of the iPhone Pro Max sold out in minutes.
While that’s not exactly unusual at this point in Cupertino’s growing season, what is unusual is that it shows Apple’s most important annual gamble just paid off. The company has upsold the planet all over again and figured out how to make its highest-end device the one that real human beings want most of all, and made its price feel acceptable.
Good will finding
Backtrack just a little and this is what happened: Apple announced its new iPhone less than one week ago and has successfully convinced millions of people worldwide to purchase the most expensive model in its new range.
Did this really happen? Here’s what makes it look like it did:
- Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo cites his own industry checks that confirm robust demand for the company’s most expensive smartphone. He claims demand for the Pro Max is greater than for the equivalent model last year, though iPhone 15 Pro sales are a little weaker. More people are choosing the top-end device.
- Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives says the “iPhone 15 Pro/Pro Max is tracking strong out the gates,” citing pre-orders on the range as up by 10% to 12% on last year.
- Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and others seemed to agree. Many noted the range of carrier promotions (opaque as some turn out to be) to help raise interest.
- Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman thinks Apple will exceed last year’s December quarter revenue.
You don’t need a periscopic camera to zoom in on the significance of this.
Cool hand, Tim
Not only should this reception help secure Apple’s market position once again, but in the context of a slowing smartphone sector, the company will likely continue its journey to become the world’s biggest smartphone vendor.
The thing is, that combination of popularity and scale develops its own momentum and means we can expect more people to upgrade to Apple’s devices, given a choice. We’re seeing this already, as we do each time company top brass get a little smug about record numbers of Android switchers. Will that switching pattern become a flood?
How has Apple upsold the world? In part, by keeping its head down and following its own path. In part, by figuring out the key things people want from their iPhones. In 2007, these included a music player, real browser, and telephone. Today you can add resilient second-user sales value, a fast processor, and the camera to the mix.
Not only that, but a recent survey claims that once consumers purchase an iPhone they tend to stick with the same model. That implies that people who've purchased an iPhone Pro Max will be more likely to stick with that model next time they upgrade.
Get the picture
Apple’s focus on the camera really kicked in when executives realized that the iPhone had become the most popular device to grab photos shared on Flickr. The company has leaned into photography before and since, and really takes this up a level with the latest model.
In this case, it makes a camera designed for tomorrow, not today. Yes, this takes good photos, but it can also capture studio-quality video and immersive environments for use in VR.
If there is a problem, it is that delivery schedules are lengthening, and even if demand is solid, there are manufacturing challenges, said Kuo. However, so long as these aren’t too egregious, Apple should meet expectations, and any phones it doesn’t get to ship in the current quarter will be sold in the subsequent 13 weeks.
The last emperor?
That’s all good, and while we know Vision Pro represents Apple’s big reach for relevance in the inevitable post-smartphone future, one can’t help but wonder if that will turn out to be the next big idea of empowered personal productivity and communication.
Because just as photography has become a foundational pillar to the success of this year’s Apple smartphone, the challenge now will be to identify just where the next foundation for success is built; or is the next innovation cycle in personal tech going to end up being characterized by the fight against climate change and to protect personal privacy in an increasingly dystopian age?