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Analysts cut forecasts for iPhone X shipment, cite lukewarm demand

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An iPhone X is displayed on a table at an Apple store in New York, U.S., November 3, 2017. -- REUTERS

APPLE, INC. looks like it’s having a not-so Merry Christmas.

Analysts lowered iPhone X shipment projections for the first quarter of next year, citing signs of lackluster demand at the end of the holiday shopping season.

Sinolink Securities Co. analyst Zhang Bin said in a Dec. 26 report that handset shipments in the period may be as low as 35 million, or 10 million less than he previously estimated. “After the first wave of demand has been fulfilled, the market now worries that the high price of the iPhone X may weaken demand in the first quarter,” Zhang wrote.

JL Warren Capital LLC said shipments will drop to 25 million units in the first quarter of 2018 from 30 million units in the fourth quarter, citing reduced orders at some Apple suppliers. The drop reflects “weak demand because of the iPhone X’s high price point and a lack of interesting innovations,” the New York-based research firm said in note to clients Friday.

“Bad news here is that highly publicized and promoted X did not boost the global demand for iPhone X,” according to the note.

Still, the iPhone X is only one part of Apple’s smartphone strategy heading into the new year. The company also recently released the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus at lower prices than the iPhone X, which could mean that a portion of consumers are opting for the other models, according to Cowen & Co. The firm said that Apple didn’t add enough new technology into the iPhone X to justify a $999 price tag.

Apple has projected revenue of $84 billion to $87 billion in the holiday quarter, which would represent growth of as much as 11% from the period a year earlier. Analysts estimate sales of $86.2 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Given that the iPhone represents about two-thirds of Apple’s sales, the company’s forecast indicates that it’s expecting iPhone growth. Analysts also project almost 30% year-over-year revenue growth for Apple’s fiscal second quarter, which suggests that iPhone sales won’t slow down for months into 2018.

Apple has been counting on a redesigned 10th anniversary iPhone to boost shipments as its market value advances toward $1 trillion. It is facing new challenges from Samsung, which is quickly recovering from the Galaxy Note 7’s recall after fires. In the meantime, Chinese brands such as Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi are also luring away potential customers in China and other emerging markets such as India. — Bloomberg