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Will the New iPhone 15 Flop or Surpass Expectations?

Is Apple's marketing gamble a hit or miss?

The iPhone 15 sales have to prove to everyone that Apple did something right. That is because I don't expect blockbuster sales of the iPhone 15 from Apple. This is especially because the competition has heated up as they are caught in a spat between the US and China.

Here is my prediction of how the iPhone 15 sales will be:

  • The top 15% of the spectrum which are the luxury enthusiasts and fans will upgrade their iPhones

  • People with an iPhone 11 or lower will want to upgrade too

  • People with iPhone 12 to 14, who are not core fans will not upgrade

  • Sales will definitely slow in China

The numbers that these come to eventually will tell how formidable Apple is. Now, let's talk about the presentation and the new iPhone 15.

Here are 11 things I picked up on during the Apple event (September 12, 2023):

1. The rise and drop-off on YouTube

Before the event, I saw 575k people waiting. That's huge. I don't think that was a record but very few events can boast of pulling that much weight.

And it is not a show where they want to add some value to us. It is a show where they want to sell us something. And that is just on YouTube. There are those watching it on Apple TV too.

But when the event started, I saw 2.1 million on YouTube. When the talk about Apple Watch started (which was the MVP of the presentation), it went to 2.3 million.

When Tim Cook started talking about the iPhone, the viewership went up to 2.5m. But...

It quickly went back down to 2.3m. This was when I started to really get intrigued by the numbers. Were people disappointed with the iPhone 15?

When the discussion got up to Pro, the viewership went up to 2.4m. But dropped shortly after to 2.3m. After the pricing, of course, the regular drop-off happened. It was down to 2.1m before the event ended.

I take these drop-offs as a sign of loss of interest. And I certainly expected better. Apple is becoming too predictable and relaxed. It may cost them this time.

2. The Apple Watch is being prepped to take over from iPhone

A friend said to me after the presentation that it won't happen. But I told him that at some point, we might see a merger of the iPhone and the Apple Watch.

I think they are up to something though. The Vision Pro too might play a part in this. If you notice the hand gesture click of the Vision Pro and the Apple Watch is aligning.

3. Presentation

The presentation was the same and predictable. I think if you have over 2 million people watching your presentation, it should be entertaining. But not out of range to distract people from the product.

That presentation style is boring already. Plus, the Mother Nature scene to me is cringe. Very cringe. But I guess their target audience cares about that a lot. And that is the top 15% of iPhone users who will upgrade their iPhones to "have a more positive impact on the environment".

4. iPhone 15

New Chip. New colours. "Faster", "Better", "More beautiful", "2X Powerful". We heard all of those before. At least, I have. What is different? In my opinion, nothing is.

Apple has core fans and a big brand. So, they can get away with anything. The reason the brand is still standing strong despite this incremental progress is the competitors.

For example, Samsung is obsessed with being number 2. They've been number 2 for so long that they don't know how to be number 1. They keep saying, "Hey look at us, we made a better phone than Apple". And that doesn't work.

Apple didn't start by saying, "Look at us, we made a better phone than BlackBerry". A Samsung user can go buy a Huawei next. But an Apple user will rather wait for the next year to get a newer iPhone. It will be an iPhone, no question about that.

5. Pro

The Pro seems to be for gamers, cinematographers, and photographers. But I don't see why those people will want to use their iPhones and not their dedicated gadgets.

Most people that I know buy the Pro for brand status. I don't know why they don't pitch it more emotionally.

6. Less emotion

The intro of the presentation was awesome. But the emotional cue dropped off a cliff from there. I was almost tired at some point. Yes, I stopped looking at the screen at some point. And it was not during the Apple Watch presentation.

7. USB-C

This looks more like an admission of defeat in all honesty. They tried to put a positive spin on it but it was a knock. I was expecting an innovation in charging.

Not that I wasn't expecting the USB-C, but I was expecting an Apple surprise standout thing. Whatever that was going to be.

Apple pretending that they didn't fight against having to switch to USB-C on iPhones is ridiculous.

8. Tech Jargon

I guess we have to wait for Marques Brownlee (MKBHD) to understand all the jargon on the chip and the impact. His videos are quickly becoming a much better marketing resource honestly.

9. Pricing

I think the pricing was amazing. The offers shared along with the pricing are very well presented. In this area, Apple is still the undisputed king.

Not allowing inflation to reflect on iPhone prices is absolutely brilliant.

10. Carbon neutral and environmental stuff

Apple knows that a significant part of their top user base cares about this stuff. So, kudos to Apple for caring about what their audience cares about.

11. The Chinese

I saw that. I noticed that. The Chinese that was spoken during the presentation. No other language was spoken. It used to be all English. But suddenly, they switched to a bit of Chinese in the gaming section for the Pro.

I think that was intentional. They are trying to court their Chinese user base even as Chinese authorities are looking to diminish iPhone sales in China. Will this little trick be enough to woo Chinese iPhone users? Time will tell.

There is one thing though - it is hard to get out of the Apple ecosystem once you get in.


This new iPhone isn't going to pull in a lot of new buyers. The sales strength is going to come from upgrades. Looking at the economy in the world right now, I am not sure how many people will have the means to upgrade with mortgage rates on the rise, higher credit card interests, lower household discretionary income, and Europe struggling with a recession.

In any case, I think over the long term, Apple will be fine. But I don't expect the iPhone 15 to surpass expectations.

I rest my case

P.S. If you haven't read the piece on Apple VS China, give it a read here

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