Data Insights

Did Apple bring the iPhone magic back with the X?

Jordan Carr

Reports suggest iPhone fangirls and boys are going strong – forming lines at Apple stores around the country and staying up until the wee hours of the morning to secure a pre-order online. But what do the numbers say? Are they representative of wider enthusiasm for the iPhone X release?

With the official iPhone X (pronounced “ten”) release date nearly a week behind us, we took a look at the Mixpanel Trends Report for the newest iPhone to see if the data matches the hype. In this article, we also briefly discuss discrepancies in iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 plus adoptions, and the impact of the newest iPhone releases on iOS 11 adoption, which reached inflection point last month.

At first glance, this graph showing iPhone 8 and iPhone X adoption isn’t showing much. iPhones older than the 7 still control 60% of the market, and everything else looks pretty flat. Zooming in gives us a clearer picture of the trends.

But when we compare iPhone 8 and iPhone X adoption, it becomes clear that iPhone X is being adopted at a faster pace than iPhone 8 ever was. While some people continue to pick up iPhone 8s, perhaps preferring the lower price point (and lower margins for Apple), iPhone X looks poised to overtake both the 8 and 8 Plus in terms of overall adoption in not too long.

It is somewhat surprising that the Plus has outsold the 8 from the jump, despite being $100 more expensive. Both are still increasing their small share of overall adoption, though this past week was the first one where the 8 showed more week-over-week growth in adoption, albeit only by a 8.0% to 5.7% margin. The 8 Plus may be left in a no-man’s land between the more budget-friendly 7s and 8s and the more cutting edge Xs.

That X’s trajectory is more up and to the right than either version of iPhone 8s’ ever was isn’t particularly surprising. This is likely a result of stacking the two releases so close together.

Monday, October 9, 2017, was the day that iOS 11 passed iOS 10, finally giving the tired masses who yearned for 70 new emoji what they wanted. A few days after that, on October 14th, iOS 11 adoption crossed the 50% threshold. At this point, 66%, just a little under two-thirds, of users on Apple devices are using iOS 11. iOS 10 peaked around 90%, though, so there are still plenty of people who will adopt iOS 11 before it’s all said and done.

For almost all app types, adoption is moving steadily up and to the right. Gaming is the exception – with only 46% of users having migrated to the newest version. It is possible that mobile gaming usage skews toward certain demographics (i.e. the very young) who update their phones at different rates. Maybe if someone uses the improved augmented reality platform to develop an iOS 11 hit on the magnitude of Pokémon Go, that number will catch up quickly.

To summarize, while the hype cycle has been strong, the actual adoption numbers of iOS do not match those of previous releases. X, to this point, has proven to be popular, but not necessarily a must-have. In general, the fact that over 60% of iPhone users are still on 6s or older phones shows that Apple has yet to find a way to differentiate subsequent releases—including this one—enough to justify the price point for the majority of their consumers.

We’ll keep an eye on iPhone X adoption numbers and provide updates as we see more data come in.

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