Some Apple Inc. (AAPL) - Get Report investors have been concerned about the rumored steep price tag of the upcoming iPhone 8 -- at $1,000, it would cost somewhere around 30% to 50% more than the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. A higher price for a device already commanding a premium can put off consumers and alienate its core audience.
But is the concern justified?
There are two pieces of evidence showing that Apple can release a $1,000 iPhone and still set revenue records when its report Q1 18 financials in late January. The first is the market's overall appetite for a nearly four-digit priced smart phone.
Samsung (SSNLF) is already taking pre-orders for its new flagship phone, the Galaxy Note 8, and while you may think it's dead-in-the-water simply because the Note 7 experienced the disaster of all smartphone disasters, you'd be wrong. According to Mobile Fun, pre-orders for accessories for the $930 Note 8 are outstripping pre-orders of last year's Note 7 by 30%.
Buyers of the Note 8 do get an option of either a free Gear 360 camera, which retails for $230, or a 128GB memory card and wireless charging station, which costs $190. However, only the first 350,000 customers requesting the memory card and 150,000 requesting the 360 camera will get them. This offer sounds like a hybrid of what some analysts are saying Apple may do to lure in customers to reach into their wallets for the iPhone 8.
But if there's a company out there that can persuade customers to pay top dollar for a top-tier product without incentives and gifts, it's Apple. This brings me to my second piece of evidence, which is that over the last two years, Apple has consistently sold more iPhone units at higher average selling prices (ASP). If we chart ASP against units shipped, we find an interesting correlation.
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When Apple releases a new flagship smartphone, the average selling price for that quarter rises, but so does unit volume. This indicates that a large percentage of consumers are reaching either for the highest-tier phone instead of the revamped prior generation, or the second in line of the flagship (i.e. the 7 Plus instead of the 7), or both. This is also consistent with Samsung's early indicators for its most expensive phone as well.
So will a significantly higher retail price push consumers away from upgrading and/or switching over the jump from Android, or will it work toward increased market share and increased profits for Apple's investors?
History tells us this smartphone market is able to handle a near-thousand dollar product even if there were complete failures preceding it, as in Samsung's case. The price point itself doesn't seem to push away consumers, especially if the next generation has features and aesthetics above and beyond that of its predecessor.
This being said, Apple must hold up its end of the bargain and deliver a smartphone worthy of upgrading for. And even if the market is yearning for a $1,000 iPhone with amazing new features, the company must take measures to eliminate potential supply constraints with hardware which could hamper its upcoming revenues and profit -- still a risk in the minds of some Apple investors.
The author has no position in any of the stocks mentioned in this article.