Apple (AAPL) is well-known for its premium prices, but the rumored $1,000 price tag on the upcoming iPhone 8 has caused some eyes to bulge.
In September 2016, Apple released the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus for a starting price of $649 and $769, respectively, while the new iPhone 8 is expected to have a $1,000 starting price tag. Firm pricing details won't be announced until Apple's launch event on Sept. 12.
To get hesitant consumers to make the price gap leap with it, Apple can easily offer $156 of free incentives, Barclays analyst Mark Moskowitz pointed out in a note on Thursday morning. By offering free one-year subscriptions to Apple Music (normal cost: $120) for 100GB of iCloud storage (normal cost: $36), Apple would be able to make up for the sizable price leap from last year's iPhone.
"Such a move could make a $1,000+ iPhone 8 seem more within reach," Moskowitz said.
Barclays conducted a recent survey that showed iPhone users' buying intention jumps to 36% from 18% when the average iPhone price drops to $800 from $1,000. By offering a $156 free bundle of services, Apple can nearly close that $200 gap that is especially concerning for iPhone customers, Moskowitz said.
"Based on our estimates, incremental iPhone 8 unit sales because of such bundling could drive revenue and EPS accretion at the consolidated level," he noted.
Barclays estimates that offering the extra bundle would cost Apple about $50, but it could then sell 64 million iPhone 8 units in the 2018 financial year, or 24 million units more than the 40 million it would sell without the incentives. The bundle scenario would equate to $9.8 billion in additional revenue for Apple's iPhone segment.
However, Jackdaw Research chief analyst Jan Dawson said that increasing the phone's price by $200 only to "eat up" much of that with free service subscriptions seems a bit absurd. Companies typically reserve giveaways for products that don't sell -- and that won't be an issue for the new iPhone. "Apple isn't going to have that problem -- it's a strategy for companies whose offerings are not compelling enough on their own, and that's never been Apple," he said.
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Surveys that ask consumers about their willingness to buy a product before the details have even been confirmed are also not good predictors of what people will be willing to spend once they can see and hold the product and review its specs, Dawson noted.
"Right now, people are being asked in surveys whether they'll pay $1000 for a theoretical iPhone, whereas in real life they'll be making a decision about upping their monthly phone payment from thirty something to forty something dollars for an iPhone that they've actually seen and which Apple has effectively marketed," he explained. "That's a vastly different proposition."
In addition, Apple doesn't need nor expect everyone to buy the new iPhone 8 for $999; it just wants people to buy some version of its iPhone. Apple is expected to unveil a 65GB, 256GB, and 512GB iPhone 8 models, meaning prices would likely range from $999 to $1,199. But Apple is also expected to unveil updated iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models, which will be less expensive, as well as a new Apple Watch. "Given the supply constraints they'll likely face, they'll be totally fine with selling lots of the other models, which will be available at price points from $500-800 as they always have been," Dawson said.
While $1,000 for even a laptop seems expensive to some consumers, Apple consumers have historically been willing to pay more for what they feel is a high quality, nice-looking and easy-to-use device. In addition, because of all the hype leading up to the iPhone 8 release, iPhone users have likely held off on upgrading their phones to wait for this tenth-anniversary edition of the iPhone. This trend has led some analysts to predict a "super cycle" for the iPhone 8. "This is as close as Apple is going to get to a supercycle," Loup Ventures founder Gene Munster told TheStreet.
Shares of Apple are trading up less than 1% to $163.35 in midday trading on Thursday. The stock is up 41% year-to-date but is expected to dip before the iPhone 8 is released and then to recover and climb higher over the next year.
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Editors' pick: Originally published Aug. 31.