Apple is a past-master at confounding market analysts and experts. At a time when most were predicting a sharp slump in iPhone off-take during the next twelve months, the company seems to have cranked it up, albeit by just 4%. Apple has notified suppliers about its plans to produce approximately 213 million iPhones over the 12 months ending March 2021, a figure that is marginally lower compared to the 220 million that the company had predicted prior to the Covid-19 outbreak.
What makes Apple bullish?
Since mid-March, the Cupertino-based company had shut down most of its retail stores and also closed its manufacturing units across China and India. However, by launching the mid-priced iPhone SE recently, Apple CEO Tim Cook has announced to the world that they are ready for action once the lockdown ceases across parts of the world. Nikkei had reported that the manufacturing would be roughly split between the iPhone SE, the cheapest smartphone from Apple thus far, and the successor to the iPhone 11, which is likely to feature 5G technology and therefore be more expensive.
It’s the iPhone SE
While market analysts hold the view that Apple could be banking heavily on the 5G iPhone and therefore working to increase the inventory, we believe it could be looking more towards its lower-end launch to do the trick. Why? Because the iPhone SE could just be the lure for borderline Android users to shift allegiance. And they do have several reasons to do so, starting with the price bracket that puts it alongside the OnePlus 8 in the Indian market. The second important factor could be the dual SIM, often considered a must-have in a country where mobile telephony is among the cheapest in the world and two SIM cards are a matter of routine rather than an exception.
But, it could all go wrong
Of course, there are also those who doubt Apple’s bullishness. An official who works with the company’s India distribution partner feels that production could end up being lower in March 2021 as there is no way Apple can measure the demand realistically, given that its stores have been shut. “Merely by witnessing the interest over the iPhone SE or around news about the iPhone 11 successor on social media, one cannot really quantify the numbers,” the official says but agrees that there is definitely a buzz around the cheap iPhone among the younger crowd of smartphone users.
In the past, Apple would regularly place orders with suppliers some time during May and June and till date there has been no move from the company to revise the orders or adjust it to suit the demand that it may perceive in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. Bloomberg had reported that iPhone shipments had rebounded in March across China, jumping by as much as 19% to touch 2.5 million units at a time when the broader smartphone market had headed south by about 21% during the same period. Of course, one needs to note that China has been offering heavy discounts on the older iPhone brands.
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