Apple’s High-Stakes iPhone Launch Explained in Five Charts

Apple’s High-Stakes iPhone Launch Explained in Five Charts
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - NOVEMBER 28: The Apple company logo hangs above an Apple retail store on November 28, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. Apple is currently facing shortages in iPhone supplies due to COVID-19 restrictions in China and unrest at one of Apple's major Chinese suppliers. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Apple Inc.’s annual iPhone unveiling is always its most momentous time of the year — a chance to impress consumers with the company’s latest model and set up the holiday selling season. 

But Apple has more than usual riding on the new iPhone 15 lineup, which will be introduced Tuesday at 10 a.m. California time. The tech titan is looking to snap several straight quarters of sluggish sales — its longest slump in two decades — and get consumers excited about upgrading again with new features.

Apple is contending with an industrywide slowdown in smartphone demand and fears of a backlash against US-branded technology in China, its largest international market. And the latest iPhone will switch to the USB-C charging standard, potentially irking consumers who have drawers full of Lightning accessories.

Apple also just renewed a contract to get modem chips from Qualcomm Inc., a sign that an effort to build its own components is taking longer than expected.

Read More: Everything Apple Plans to Announce at Sept. 12 iPhone 15 Launch

But the company has several things going in its favor, including an iPhone with enticing new capabilities. And demand for the product has held up better than that of its Android peers. Apple also has successfully shifted more consumers to higher-end models, helping it charge heftier prices.

1. Apple’s Flagship Product

The iPhone is Apple’s biggest source of revenue, generating about half its sales. Add in the Apple Watch and AirPods, which also will get updated at the event, and you’re close to 60%.

Apple Prepares to Unveil Its Biggest Moneymakers | The iPhone and wearables categories make up more than half of revenue

2. A Sales Slump

The entire smartphone industry has been in a funk, and Apple hasn’t been immune. Slow sales of the iPhone dragged down its overall revenue, which is poised to fall this year for the first time since 2019.

Sales should begin to rebound in the fiscal first quarter of 2024, which runs through December.

A Chance to Bounce Back From Apple’s 2023 Slowdown | Sluggish demand for phones and computers has sent sales sliding

3. More Upscale iPhones

Apple has increasingly steered customers toward its higher-end phones by packing them with exclusive features and more powerful chips. That trend will continue this year, and Apple’s expected to raise prices in at least some markets.

The iPhone’s Ever-Increasing Price Tag | A shift to higher-end models is helping generate more revenue per device

4. Outperforming Peers

Apple has weathered the smartphone slowdown better than most manufacturers. Though its phone shipments slipped 2% last quarter, according to IDC, that was better better than the 15% decline suffered by Samsung Electronics Co. The performance has helped Apple pick up some market share.

Apple Has Been Gaining Market Share During a Sluggish Period | The top five smartphone makers as a percentage of worldwide shipments

5. China Concerns

A key question is whether Chinese consumers will embrace the iPhone 15 the way they did with past models. The market has been a bright spot for Apple recently, but government bans have stoked fears that sentiment could turn against the company. A new smartphone from Huawei Technologies Co. with a fast processor may also shift demand away from the iPhone.

China Remains a Critical Market for Apple | Sales from the region have have roughly tripled over past decade

Apple has seen this scenario before. It suffered a weak stretch in China in fiscal 2019 after a nationalist spirit swept the country. But demand ultimately bounced back. Investors will be watching holiday sales closely to see if Apple can weather the challenge this time around.


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