Digitimes is reporting on the first shipment of completed iPhone X handsets, claiming that just 46,500 were shipped to UAE and the Netherlands. That seems remarkably low, so low in fact as to cast serious doubts on the validity of the report.
We know that iPhone X yields have been low, but the reported numbers have been in the order of 100,000 units per week. It seems implausible that just a couple of weeks before pre-orders are due to start arriving with customers, Apple has only has less than one weeks production output to hand. That would suggest that Apple has not managed to increase yields above this worst case scenario number.
If Apple is only able to manufacture 100,000 devices per week that would suggest only a quarter of a million iPhones will get to customers at launch in November and less than a million will get to customers ahead of Christmas. Added to the weak sales of the iPhone 8 Apple would be heading to a disastrous 2017 Q4.
The thing that makes me doubt those numbers is Tim Cook's reputation for being king of supply chain management. I don't believe the iPhone X would have been announced last month if there was any likelihood of supply being so badly constrained.
If iPhone yields have been closer to the half a million a week we've been told Apple is expecting, that would put day one availability at somewhere north of two million iPhones and around six million by the end of the year.
That would make for a much happier financial report in January and also avoid alienating millions of loyal Apple customers.
Right now I have to fell that Tim Cook knew what he was doing when he stood on the stage and announced the iPhone X last month, which is why I have to doubt the Digitimes number.