iPhone X Supply Quickly Catching Up To Demand

Apple decreased the lead-time for the iPhone X from 2 to 3 weeks to 1 to 2 weeks on Thanksgiving Day. I have tracked iPhone lead-times for the 4S, 5, 5c, 5s, 6, 6s, 7 and now the 8 and X. While I didn’t follow all of them until the lead-times disappeared I believe it is worthwhile to follow the iPhone 8’s and X’s and compare them to some of the earlier models, especially the iPhone 6 since it saw such strong demand.

Apple CEO Tim Cook signs the box of a new iPhone X at an Apple Store. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

There had been a lot of speculation that demand for the iPhone X could be so strong and supply could be constrained that its supply would not catch up to demand until at least the March quarter if not a few months after that. With the X’s lead-times shrinking so fast this is clearly not the case.

X’s lead-times falling faster than the iPhone 6 Plus

There was huge pent up demand for the iPhone 6 and especially the 6 Plus in 2014 (and into 2015) since Apple was late in delivering larger screen iPhones. At the 8 week post availability (November 16th) all of the 6 Plus versions (Space Gray, Silver and Gold colors with 16GB, 64GB and 128GB memory sizes) had 3 to 4 week lead times. About a week later the 16GB and 64GB versions saw their lead-times fall and a few days after that the 128GB versions had their lead-times cut to 7 to 10 business days.

The iPhone X has seen its lead-times fall much faster. In the first day that orders were taken its lead-time was 5 to 6 weeks vs. the 6 Plus’ at 3 to 4 weeks. On Friday, November 3, when it first started shipping the X’s lead-time had fallen to 3 to 4 weeks which matched the 6 Plus’. It only took 1 1/2 weeks for the X’s to drop to 2 to 3 weeks and now in just under 3 weeks it is at 1 to 2 weeks.

For all the concerns about Apple’s suppliers having production issues this doesn’t seem to be the case. I don’t believe Apple would have announced 57 countries to get the X at the initial ship date if management thought there would be problems it could not overcome. There were also multiple reports about a month ago that iPhone X production was ramping which were in contrast to earlier articles about parts supply issues.

From the demand side there have been indications from industry analysts such as Localytics measuring how many of each model are in use which have been positive for the iPhone X. But it would be helpful to have more of them to get a better indication of the demand for it. Overall I would take the faster drop in lead-times to mean that demand is not as robust as expected (at least by the analysts).

Unfortunately we really won’t know until Apple announces its December quarter results regarding iPhone units and its average selling price or ASP. Having shorter lead-times for the X does help Apple have good availability for Christmas presents but multiple analysts were expecting iPhone X supply to not catch up to demand until 2018 which does not look like that will be the case.