Questionable analysis claims US iPhone user base growth has stalled

Posted:
in AAPL Investors edited November 2019
Apple's iPhone user base in the United States is slowing its growth, according to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners in a questionably-derived analysis, with iPhone retention rates and fewer Android switchers claimed to be the reason for the stalled growth.




Apple's most recent financial results on Wednesday revealed overall revenue for the quarter of $64 billion, with iPhone-specific earnings of $33.36 billion down 9% year-on-year. The slight drop in iPhone revenue was made up by improvements in other areas, with growth in Services, Wearables, and iPad more than making up for the shortfall.

In a report from CIRP, Apple's continued growth of iPhone sales in the United States is slowly grinding to a halt, with minimal sequential-quarter improvements over the last year. It is estimated Apple's iPhone install base in the United States reached 204 million units for the September quarter.

"Apple added the fewest number of iPhones to the US install base in a quarter in six years," declared CIRP partner and co-founder Josh Lowitz. "Both quarterly and annual growth have slowed to the lowest levels since we started tracking iPhone sales and retirements in 2012."

Via CIRP
Via CIRP


CIRP believes this is due to a number of reasons, including a lower pool of first-time smartphone buyers, and a lower number of Android switchers moving to iOS. "The trend toward keeping old phones longer protects the size of the installed base, however," CIRP adds, with older iPhones kept active and preventing switching from iOS to Android, though "platform switching in both directions is down."

CIRP's analysis is questionable, as the 204 million figure is based on estimated global sales of 43 million, which is in turn produced by combining the estimated average selling price of $783 with figures Apple disclosed. Apple's current reporting policy means it does not provide units figures for global iPhone sales, forcing analysts to make educated guesses based on data that has been officially provided, as well as acquiring more information from other third parties.

The last known average selling price was $783.87 in the fourth fiscal quarter of 2018. At the time, Apple had released the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. The iPhone XR had yet to be released, making it an impossible compare to the fourth fiscal quarter of 2019, with the entire iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro line available for about two weeks at the end of the quarter.

CIRP also provides analysis on different devices Apple classifies as "Other Products," including the AirPods, Apple Watch, Apple TV, HomePod, Beats headphones, Beats wireless headphones, Beats speakers, and cases.

Via CIRP
Via CIRP


In its report, the Apple TV maintains its lead as the most-owned product among the group with close to 25% ownership among Apple customers, followed closely by Apple Watch with around 20%, then HomePod and AirPods between 5% and 10%. While most products on the list have comparable ownership rates as found in September 2018, with some growth in the Apple TV, the HomePod is seen to have outpaced cases, and Beats devices.

CIRP's results are based on a "survey of 500 US Apple customers" who purchased an iPhone, iPad, or Mac between July and September. This is a too-small pool to base general ownership trends in the United States, especially as it takes only the view of customers who bought more expensive items, and not existing iOS device or Mac owners buying the accessories.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 18,020member
    CIRP's results are based on a "survey of 500 US Apple customers" who purchased an iPhone, iPad, or Mac between July and September. This is a too-small pool to base general ownership trends in the United States, especially as it takes only the view of customers who bought more expensive items, and not existing iOS device or Mac owners buying the accessories.


    LOL.  I was reading through, trying to ascertain exactly where they got these numbers and why they were derided as questionable.  Sort of buried the lede there, huh?  

    I also question the entire "other Apple products" figures, but since it's based on the 500 Apple customer survey, that's not surprising.  GIGO.  

    GeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 22
    hodarhodar Posts: 358member
    Why is this questionable?  Those who want cellphones, typically have cell phones.  The growth in this industry exploded for a decade or so, not the growth is stagnant.  The same thing could be said about Blue Jeans, eye glasses, deodorant and shoes.
    bonobobmuthuk_vanalingamGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 3 of 22
    If you want to say “iPhone growth rates have stalled do to market saturation” I’ll by that.  

    Making conclusions on a survey of 500 people is a waste of time... about that many iPhones are sold every minute.
    bonobobGeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 22
    You know that 80% of all statistics are made up. Really!!
    baconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 22
    jimh2jimh2 Posts: 640member
    Surveys in general are worthless. 500 people is a nothing sample. Most people know well more than 500 people. There are 350 million or so people in the US.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 22
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 10,557member
    jimh2 said:
    Surveys in general are worthless. 500 people is a nothing sample. Most people know well more than 500 people. There are 350 million or so people in the US.
    Do you have a degree in statistical analysis? In any event Apple investors don’t seem to be paying any attention to these gloom and doom surveys and analysts. Remember, short sellers are always looking for ways to talk a stock down. 
    edited November 2019
  • Reply 7 of 22
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 1,805unconfirmed, member
    Looks nice seeing HomePod and AppleTV doing that well.

    Unfortunately, 500 people is too small considering Apple has about 1 billion iPhone users.

    You know that 80% of all statistics are made up. Really!!

    Including this one!!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 22
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 7,837member
    hodar said:
    Why is this questionable?  Those who want cellphones, typically have cell phones.  The growth in this industry exploded for a decade or so, not the growth is stagnant.  The same thing could be said about Blue Jeans, eye glasses, deodorant and shoes.
    That isn't the case here.

    This is about iPhones (as opposed to smartphones in general) and limited to the U.S.

    The numbers are questionable for the reasons given but there is plenty of room for iPhone growth. The question is what Apple might be willing to do to achieve it. Clearly price would be a major factor. If a $399 'new' iPhone really does get released early next year, it might just be one of the ways to kick-start that growth.

    Away from the U.S and other 'developed' markets, there is also plenty of room for growth (India and South America) as feature phones are still very common in those regions (especially in India).

    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 9 of 22
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,891administrator
    sdw2001 said:
    CIRP's results are based on a "survey of 500 US Apple customers" who purchased an iPhone, iPad, or Mac between July and September. This is a too-small pool to base general ownership trends in the United States, especially as it takes only the view of customers who bought more expensive items, and not existing iOS device or Mac owners buying the accessories.


    LOL.  I was reading through, trying to ascertain exactly where they got these numbers and why they were derided as questionable.  Sort of buried the lede there, huh?  

    I also question the entire "other Apple products" figures, but since it's based on the 500 Apple customer survey, that's not surprising.  GIGO.  

    Paragraph five and six of the 10 are more of the issue than the sample size.
  • Reply 10 of 22
    flydogflydog Posts: 1,129member
    I remember the days when good journalism meant not publishing questionable stories.  Facts were checked and sources were vetted.  Seems like the new standard is "will people click on this."
    AppleExposedJapheywatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 22
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 18,020member
    sdw2001 said:
    CIRP's results are based on a "survey of 500 US Apple customers" who purchased an iPhone, iPad, or Mac between July and September. This is a too-small pool to base general ownership trends in the United States, especially as it takes only the view of customers who bought more expensive items, and not existing iOS device or Mac owners buying the accessories.


    LOL.  I was reading through, trying to ascertain exactly where they got these numbers and why they were derided as questionable.  Sort of buried the lede there, huh?  

    I also question the entire "other Apple products" figures, but since it's based on the 500 Apple customer survey, that's not surprising.  GIGO.  

    Paragraph five and six of the 10 are more of the issue than the sample size.

    I'm not sure I agree with that.  I think both are problematic, but the first is at least based on hard data.  The survey is clearly not large enough, as noted in the article.  Surveys in general are notoriously inaccurate, for reasons we both probably know.  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 22
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    sdw2001 said:
    sdw2001 said:
    CIRP's results are based on a "survey of 500 US Apple customers" who purchased an iPhone, iPad, or Mac between July and September. This is a too-small pool to base general ownership trends in the United States, especially as it takes only the view of customers who bought more expensive items, and not existing iOS device or Mac owners buying the accessories.


    LOL.  I was reading through, trying to ascertain exactly where they got these numbers and why they were derided as questionable.  Sort of buried the lede there, huh?  

    I also question the entire "other Apple products" figures, but since it's based on the 500 Apple customer survey, that's not surprising.  GIGO.  

    Paragraph five and six of the 10 are more of the issue than the sample size.

    I'm not sure I agree with that.  I think both are problematic, but the first is at least based on hard data.  The survey is clearly not large enough, as noted in the article.  Surveys in general are notoriously inaccurate, for reasons we both probably know.  
    It depends on the quality of work the researchers do, surveys can be accurate.   

    However the bigger issue here is the reporter that appears to be butt hurt over what may be accurate research.  Even without research it is pretty easy to see sales in the USA plateauing simply due to saturation.  Add in a bit of consumer resistance to Apples pricing policies , China policies and other clubs and one can easily see a slow down in sales.   

    In a nut shell the easy growth is gone in the USA.   From this point on it is about competitive products.  
  • Reply 13 of 22
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,891administrator
    sdw2001 said:
    sdw2001 said:
    CIRP's results are based on a "survey of 500 US Apple customers" who purchased an iPhone, iPad, or Mac between July and September. This is a too-small pool to base general ownership trends in the United States, especially as it takes only the view of customers who bought more expensive items, and not existing iOS device or Mac owners buying the accessories.


    LOL.  I was reading through, trying to ascertain exactly where they got these numbers and why they were derided as questionable.  Sort of buried the lede there, huh?  

    I also question the entire "other Apple products" figures, but since it's based on the 500 Apple customer survey, that's not surprising.  GIGO.  

    Paragraph five and six of the 10 are more of the issue than the sample size.

    I'm not sure I agree with that.  I think both are problematic, but the first is at least based on hard data.  The survey is clearly not large enough, as noted in the article.  Surveys in general are notoriously inaccurate, for reasons we both probably know.  
    What hard data? The same ASP as a year ago when market conditions including available phones were vastly different?

    Mathematically, the sample size examined in a vacuum is okay. It isn't great, it's okay. More troublesome for that aspect is we don't know more about the when and the where the 500 folks were queried.
    edited November 2019
  • Reply 14 of 22
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,891administrator

    wizard69 said:
    sdw2001 said:
    sdw2001 said:
    CIRP's results are based on a "survey of 500 US Apple customers" who purchased an iPhone, iPad, or Mac between July and September. This is a too-small pool to base general ownership trends in the United States, especially as it takes only the view of customers who bought more expensive items, and not existing iOS device or Mac owners buying the accessories.


    LOL.  I was reading through, trying to ascertain exactly where they got these numbers and why they were derided as questionable.  Sort of buried the lede there, huh?  

    I also question the entire "other Apple products" figures, but since it's based on the 500 Apple customer survey, that's not surprising.  GIGO.  

    Paragraph five and six of the 10 are more of the issue than the sample size.

    I'm not sure I agree with that.  I think both are problematic, but the first is at least based on hard data.  The survey is clearly not large enough, as noted in the article.  Surveys in general are notoriously inaccurate, for reasons we both probably know.  
    It depends on the quality of work the researchers do, surveys can be accurate.   

    However the bigger issue here is the reporter that appears to be butt hurt over what may be accurate research.  Even without research it is pretty easy to see sales in the USA plateauing simply due to saturation.  Add in a bit of consumer resistance to Apples pricing policies , China policies and other clubs and one can easily see a slow down in sales.   

    In a nut shell the easy growth is gone in the USA.   From this point on it is about competitive products.  
    Show me in the text where Malcolm is "butt hurt."
    sdw2001
  • Reply 15 of 22
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,891administrator
    flydog said:
    I remember the days when good journalism meant not publishing questionable stories.  Facts were checked and sources were vetted.  Seems like the new standard is "will people click on this."
    You may note the contextualization in the piece in regards to sample size and ASP. These would be the checked facts and sources you speak of.

    The story is making the rounds elsewhere, without the contextualization, and with sensationalized headlines. Good journalism is about contextualization too.
    edited November 2019 sdw2001
  • Reply 16 of 22
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 18,020member
    sdw2001 said:
    sdw2001 said:
    CIRP's results are based on a "survey of 500 US Apple customers" who purchased an iPhone, iPad, or Mac between July and September. This is a too-small pool to base general ownership trends in the United States, especially as it takes only the view of customers who bought more expensive items, and not existing iOS device or Mac owners buying the accessories.


    LOL.  I was reading through, trying to ascertain exactly where they got these numbers and why they were derided as questionable.  Sort of buried the lede there, huh?  

    I also question the entire "other Apple products" figures, but since it's based on the 500 Apple customer survey, that's not surprising.  GIGO.  

    Paragraph five and six of the 10 are more of the issue than the sample size.

    I'm not sure I agree with that.  I think both are problematic, but the first is at least based on hard data.  The survey is clearly not large enough, as noted in the article.  Surveys in general are notoriously inaccurate, for reasons we both probably know.  
    What hard data? The same ASP as a year ago when market conditions including available phones were vastly different?

    Mathematically, the sample size examined in a vacuum is okay. It isn't great, it's okay. More troublesome for that aspect is we don't know more about the when and the where the 500 folks were queried.

    1.  Like I said, both are problematic.  Good point on year-old data and market conditions.  
    2.  I couldn't tell you whether the math is OK, but I'll take your word.  It certainly seems small for the number of iPhone owners we're talking about.  I agree completely about how the survey was constructed.  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 22
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 18,020member

    wizard69 said:
    sdw2001 said:
    sdw2001 said:
    CIRP's results are based on a "survey of 500 US Apple customers" who purchased an iPhone, iPad, or Mac between July and September. This is a too-small pool to base general ownership trends in the United States, especially as it takes only the view of customers who bought more expensive items, and not existing iOS device or Mac owners buying the accessories.


    LOL.  I was reading through, trying to ascertain exactly where they got these numbers and why they were derided as questionable.  Sort of buried the lede there, huh?  

    I also question the entire "other Apple products" figures, but since it's based on the 500 Apple customer survey, that's not surprising.  GIGO.  

    Paragraph five and six of the 10 are more of the issue than the sample size.

    I'm not sure I agree with that.  I think both are problematic, but the first is at least based on hard data.  The survey is clearly not large enough, as noted in the article.  Surveys in general are notoriously inaccurate, for reasons we both probably know.  
    It depends on the quality of work the researchers do, surveys can be accurate.   

    However the bigger issue here is the reporter that appears to be butt hurt over what may be accurate research.  Even without research it is pretty easy to see sales in the USA plateauing simply due to saturation.  Add in a bit of consumer resistance to Apples pricing policies , China policies and other clubs and one can easily see a slow down in sales.   

    In a nut shell the easy growth is gone in the USA.   From this point on it is about competitive products.  

    1.  OK, surveys can be accurate.  I agree.  But they are, in general, notoriously unreliable.  I use surveys myself.  But there are so many variables, including time/place/method, construction of questions, for what purpose the data is used, etc.  

    2.  I don't agree with that at all.  The article uses the term "questionable," which I think actually may be an understatement.  

    3.  You're confusing anecdotal evidence and what seem to be logical conclusions with empirical evidence.   
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 22
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 1,770member
    Thanks for censoring my first post. At least you fixed the error though. I can’t figure out why this article, in particular, seems to be so excessively moderated. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 22
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,891administrator
    Japhey said:
    Thanks for censoring my first post. At least you fixed the error though. I can’t figure out why this article, in particular, seems to be so excessively moderated. 
    Censoring is not the same as deleting because of a forum guideline violation. Read the commenting guidelines for more information on the topic. The information you seek is there. If you have further concerns or questions, direct them to me in a direct message rather than continuing it here in this thread.
    edited November 2019 watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 22
    mpantonempantone Posts: 2,101member
    LOL, 500 Americans? Without even going into statistics and sample sizes, let's just back up here.

    There are fifty states. We are talking about 10 people per state, less if we include the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. You have to be on drugs if you think ten randomly chosen people in your state are a worthy representation vis-a-vis the rest of the country.

    Worse, they probably only surveyed adults despite the fact that many adolescents own cellphones and will be future decision makers on cellphone purchase decisions.

    This whole survey is a complete farce.
    watto_cobra
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