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article imageThe hyped iPhone 8 'supercycle' may not actually happen

By James Walker     Feb 6, 2017 in Technology
For months, analysts have been claiming this year's iPhone launch will form part of a "supercycle," a surge in demand that will see a vast increase in upgrades over last year. One Apple watcher has now said the supercycle simply won't happen though.
The supercycle theory has been a topic of discussion in Apple circles for several months. The basic premise is that an all-new iPhone design coupled with Apple's aging install base of existing users will lead to exceptionally rapid uptake of the iPhone 8. Demand will be higher than ever, setting new records for initial and lifetime sales.
However, noted Apple analyst Neil Cybart disputed the claims this week. Business Insider reports Cybart doesn't expect the iPhone 8 to ignite an explosion in demand because the so-called supercycle won't align with when people actually buy new phones. He made the comments during a discussion with UBS analyst Steve Milunovich on Thursday.
"I don't think we can say that the premium iPhone is going to kick off a surge of upgrades where everyone says, 'We want this new iPhone,'" he said.
Apple is widely rumoured to be working on three versions of the iPhone 8. It's focusing on adding new features for its most significant iPhone launch yet, the tenth anniversary of the device. The company will introduce a new chassis design for the first time in three years, using a glass back that evokes the style of 2011's iPhone 4s.
The three variants of the handset will have subtly different hardware. The high-end premium model will come with a 5.8-inch OLED display and advanced camera optics, representing an entirely new option for iPhone buyers. The current 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch form factors will return with LCD displays. As with the iPhone 7, only the larger version will have a dual-lens camera system.
Some analysts have suggested the line-up could drive sales towards the high-end premium model. It's the most feature-filled handset with a significantly brighter display and a superior camera system.
Cybart disagrees though. He pointed out that the three versions are designed to give customers choice and spread sales. Overall demand may be higher but it's not going to be concentrated on a single device.
"The whole point of this is that instead of focusing on just one big upgrade for one model I think we'll see more ups and downs where one model may be popular among a certain segment of the user base and lead to some nice growth in a particular quarter," said Cybart.
It's thought over 80 million iPhone handsets could be shipped worldwide in the final quarter of 2017, well above the 75 million sales during the iPhone 6's supercycle. Back in 2014, people were attracted to the 6 because of its new design and larger form factor, attributes returning this year.
There are now far more existing users to sell to, accounting for the increase in sales anticipated by analysts. Apple's strong ecosystem retention makes it probable an existing iPhone user will upgrade to another iPhone, increasing its potential audience. As Cybart notes, not everyone who currently owns an iPhone will be upgrading though, regardless of how many features Apple packs in.
Although the supercycle may never materialise, there is evidence that Apple itself is anticipating its most successful launch yet. The company is reportedly planning to increase production of the next-generation iPhone earlier than usual, suggesting it's aiming to have more stock available at launch.
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