The iPhone X has had a strong Thanksgiving weekend. Analysts at Rosenblatt Securities estimated that it sold a record six million units during the Black Friday weekend. The anniversary iPhone was supposed to see yet another wave of strong demand during the Christmas weekend. It did. But the iPhone X activations didn’t see the same level of jump on Christmas weekend as the Google Pixel 2.
Google Pixel 2 sees the highest jump in activations
The Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL activations managed to beat the iPhone X, iPhone 8 and 8 Plus over the Christmas weekend. Data from Localytics shows that Google’s flagship smartphones had an unexpectedly impressive holiday run. The Google Pixel 2 XL had seen a 12% jump in activations during the Thanksgiving weekend, but the activations went up by 31.41% over the Christmas weekend.
The regular Pixel 2 witnessed a 38.6% lift in new activations. The two Pixel phones were followed by the iPhone X with a 28.72% rise in activations. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus rounded out the top five. There were a total of six Apple devices, two Google handsets, and two Samsung phones in the top ten. The Galaxy Note 8 occupied the 9th spot with 9.5% lift in activations, and the Galaxy S8 was ranked 10th with 2.78%.
Localytics attributed the huge jump in Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL activations to lucrative promotional offers from carriers and retailers. The new Pixel phones had faced many issues related to the display upon release, which Google has fixed via software updates. Best Buy and Verizon were offering the Pixel 2 for less than $15 per month. Google was also offering a $100 Fi service credit with a Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL activation.
No, Google Pixel 2 is not selling better than the iPhone X
The analytics firm believes it could also be a sign that Android fans are embracing the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL the same way Apple fans have embraced the latest iPhones. Localytics collects data from roughly three billion smartphones worldwide that use apps incorporating their SDK.
The activations do no reflect actual sales figures. The data only shows the percentage increase in new activations over the Christmas weekend to a baseline of the prior three weekends in December. The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL might have seen a solid jump in terms of percentage because they were selling only in small numbers during the previous weekends. The total number of phones sold by Google would still be far less than Apple.
Meanwhile, data from Flurry shows that Apple devices accounted for 44% of the total new smartphone activations during the holiday weekend. It was followed by Samsung with 26% activations. Huawei, Xiaomi, and Motorola rounded out the top five. Each of them captured less than 5% of activations. Despite the huge jump in activations, Google is not even in the top five in terms of actual sales.
The iPhone activations and market share data
Localytics added that Apple’s activations recovered nicely this year following a “softer performance in 2016.” However, the 2017 holiday percentage lift failed to match the 2015 numbers, which were driven by the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus.
The analytics firm also shared the iPhone market share captured by different models. The iPhone 7 still dominates, accounting for nearly 20% of the total iPhone installed base. The iPhone X has been around for less than two months, but has grabbed 5.28% share. The iPhone 8 Plus has a 4.03% share followed by the iPhone 8’s 3.37%. As people replace their older iPhones with the latest models, the iPhone X, iPhone 8 and 8 Plus share would continue to rise in 2018.
Analysts project weak iPhone X sales in March quarter
Earlier this week, shares of Apple and its suppliers plunged after Taiwanese media claimed that Apple had reduced iPhone X orders at its suppliers. The Economic Daily News reported that Apple had trimmed its March quarter shipment forecast from 50 million units to 30 million units. Industry experts also expressed concerns that the March quarter iPhone X sales could come in below expectations.
Sinolink Securities has reduced its iPhone X shipment forecast for the first quarter from 45 million to 35 million units. JL Warren Capital now expects Apple to ship only 25 million units, down from their earlier estimate of 30 million units. JL Warren Capital said the anniversary iPhone’s high price and the lack of innovative features would hurt the phone’s sales. If you leave out the TrueDepth camera and the OLED display, the iPhone X is the same as the iPhone 8 Plus.
It helps explain why the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus together managed to outsell the iPhone X in the anniversary model’s first month of availability. According to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP), the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus accounted for 23% and 17% of sales, which means they collectively grabbed 40% of the iPhone sales during the iPhone X’s launch month. By comparison, the iPhone X accounted for only 30% of sales in the same period.
It could partially be attributed to the iPhone X’s limited availability in the first few weeks of launch. It’s still surprising that the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus with few upgrades managed to beat the anniversary iPhone. Apple was able to ramp up iPhone X production pretty quickly.
iPhone X demand might not be weakening
Rosenblatt Securities analyst Jun Zhang said the reports of a weakening iPhone X demand were misguided. The phone had a stellar holiday quarter. Zhang maintained his March quarter shipment estimate of 35 million units. The analyst said the reports of order cuts at suppliers were likely referring to the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus orders rather than the iPhone X.
The anniversary version shares many components with the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. When the iPhone X went on sale, Apple asked its suppliers to cut the production of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus by nearly 50%. Rosenblatt Securities told investors that there were no order cuts at the 3D sensor and OLED display suppliers. The 3D sensor and OLED panels are used in the iPhone X.