There has been a roar of rumors about the delay of Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) brand new iPhone 8. Most swirl around a delay in the delivery of key components from suppliers or the discovery of a flaw in one of the smartphone’s key features. However, a delay won’t matter much. Apple is still likely to sell over 150 million units between now and mid-2018, particularly if its features are an impressive advance from earlier versions. In other words, Apple may have to skip a quarter of spectacular earnings, but that is all.
Among the reasons a delay is not important is the iPhone 8 has no real competition. Samsung usually has a successful smartphone in the field as a threat to iPhone sales. The release of its Galaxy S8 has not been impressive. Reviews have been mediocre. And, many consumers have decided to wait for the iPhone 8 anyway.
The presumption that a delay will hurt demand is false. As a matter of fact, a low supply of past iPhone models has caused a crush of demand as some people enjoy the new smartphone and others look on with envy. As long as the iPhone 8 is out before the holiday season, which means a release before Nov. 1, sales for the important fourth quarter of the calendar year will be nothing short of massive.
A delay should not mute sales in Apple’s key overseas markets. The demand in Europe has always mirrored U.S. patterns. The same is largely true in Japan.
The area of the world Apple has to worry about is its Greater China region. Local smartphone companies in the People’s Republic of China include Huawei, Otto, and Lenovo. The iPhone 7 has the disadvantage of being in the market for more than a year, which has given these companies the opportunity to release phones with new features in the world’s largest smartphone market.
A new iPhone will allow Apple to put something new into China, where it has not typically done well. This could spur demand. At the same time, investors have always had limited expectations for Chinese success.
The key to the success of the iPhone 8 will not be when it is released, within reason. It is whether the product is a large technology and feature leap above the iPhone 7. Apple critics have accused the company of releasing new iPhones that are only a modest upgrade from previous models. Apple has to end that cycle, and if it does, the demand for the phone will outstrip anything in Apple’s history.