Two weeks ago, KGI Securities analyst Ming-chi Kuo said that woes about iPhone 8 demand were overblown — part of that was due to his doubt that the supply-constricted iPhone X won’t be able to sell fast — and that a more plentiful rebound phone will boost numbers.
We’d usually start to see new iPhone sales in the third calendar quarter of the year, giving a big late-summer boost to what would otherwise be a dullard season.
Well, in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, AT&T is reporting that it has made 900,000 fewer handset upgrades than last year. Bloomberg columnist Shira Ovide also points out that upgrade rates for the customer base of the four major networks have steadily fallen across several years — some analysts estimate that AT&T’s 3Q17 upgrade rate will be lower than estimates.
It may only be one data point that will need more to back up over the course of a holiday shopping season (the busiest time of year for upgrades), but it’s the freshest and firmest one that represents hard data on the smartphone sector. As Apple is the weightiest pendulum for US carriers, the first tea leaf isn’t a positive one.