At this point in time, it almost seems as though Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and smartphone rival Samsung Electronics (OTCMKTS:SSNLF) have switched positions. Mere months ago, everything that could possibly go wrong seemed to be hitting Samsung, while AAPL took the smartphone sales crown and rode a wave of optimism about the upcoming 10th anniversary iPhone 8 launch.
But with U.S. Galaxy S8 sales up a whopping 30% over last year’s Galaxy S7 pre-orders, and more signs of iPhone 8 delays, momentum seems to have shifted to Samsung.
Samsung Announces Record U.S. Galaxy S8 Pre-Orders
Speaking to VentureBeat, Samsung confirmed that Galaxy S8 sales are on track to put the Galaxy Note 7 far behind it. In fact, according to Samsung, Galaxy S8 pre-orders smashed the previously record-setting Galaxy S7 pre-orders in the crucial U.S. market by 30%. Samsung told the publication:
“The Galaxy S8 and S8+ are a result of that recommitment and the market has responded — with a more than 30 percent year-over-year growth in pre-orders versus the record pre-orders we had with Galaxy S7, making it our best ever. The response is humbling, energizing and points to a great launch week.”
Samsung hasn’t yet released any numbers beyond the 30% claim, but it seems confident that Galaxy S8 sales are going to be huge.
Meanwhile, More Rumblings of an iPhone 8 Delay
While Samsung celebrates, Apple is reportedly continuing to struggle with production challenges that seem increasingly likely to result in iPhone 8 delays.
There have been rumblings that the advanced technology AAPL is incorporating in the iPhone 8 is causing problems at the manufacturing stage. There has been speculation that the new iPhone might not launch until October or November as a result, raining on Apple’s 10th anniversary iPhone parade.
The latest bad news on that front comes from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Mac Rumors reports the analyst — who is typically positive about Apple developments — is now joining the camp predicting an iPhone 8 delay due to production issues.
Kuo isn’t suggesting Apple will miss its September launch target, but is predicting the iPhone 8 will face “severe supply shortages” that could push consistent retail availability into 2018.
Record Galaxy S8 Pre-Orders, iPhone 8 Delay Not in AAPL’s Script
Limited supplies is not what Apple wants for the iPhone 8. With the iPhone 7S and the iPhone 8 expected to launch in September — accompanied by the iPhone’s 10th anniversary hype and a bruised Samsung — this was supposed to be an upgrade super cycle that would smash records.
Unfortunately, the plan is going sideways.
After the massive wave of bad PR caused by the Galaxy Note 7’s fire-prone batteries and the subsequent botched recall program, Samsung’s overall phone sales slid enough in the aftermath that Apple was able to dethrone it in Q4 2016 as the world’s top smartphone vendor by volume.
However, Samsung started off the year with a press conference outlining the extreme measures it’s taking to ensure battery safety in its products. It made a splash with the delayed Galaxy S8 reveal — showcasing features like a near bezel-free display and glass back that are expected to be in the iPhone 8 — then followed that up by grabbing back the top smartphone vendor crown from AAPL.
Now the record-crushing Galaxy S8 pre-orders point to the likelihood that overall Galaxy S8 sales are going to be much better than expected.
Not what Apple wanted to see.
We still have six months for this to play out (longer if the predictions of an iPhone 8 delay are accurate), but two themes are beginning to gel for 2017:
First, Samsung has recovered from the Galaxy Note 7 and may be stronger than ever. And second, Apple needs to work hard in the coming months if its September, 10th anniversary iPhone event and launch is going meet expectations — especially around iPhone 8 sales.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.