Asked and unanswered: The iPhone X failure mystery


Did you know that you can imply any crazy ol’ thing if you just phrase it as a question? Let’s look at an example.

Is Craig Federighi a never nude?

See? The Macalope didn’t say Craig was a never nude, but now all you can picture is Craig showering in jorts. And we don’t even know if he does that! Yet! But it’s a thing that people are speculating about. There’s talk of it. Now, anyway.

Writing for Newsweek, Jason Murdock is doing that fancy two-step that’s sweeping the nation called “Just askin’!”

“Did the iPhone X fail? New study reveals why users refused to upgrade.” (Tip o’ the antlers to Daniel.)

The users! They refused to upgrade. And the phone—did it fail? Did it?

Wait, is Murdock asking us? Then, no! It did not!

Potential iPhone buyers want larger screens with lower prices and are refusing to upgrade because previous models work just fine, a new survey says.

Reading this lede to understand the survey results is a bit like watching people play foosball to learn the rules of soccer. Those were the top reasons cited by people but separately, so stringing them together like that is somewhat misleading.

Murdock does at least call the “reports” of a 50 percent cut in iPhone X part orders what they are, rumors.

It revealed that roughly 40 percent of users had not upgraded to the iPhone X.

That’s how the Macalope had read it at first based on Piper Jaffray’s somewhat confusing wording:

Our survey of 1,500 iPhone users shows that ~40% have not upgraded to iPhone X because they either feel the device is too expensive (31%) or they prefer a larger screen (8%)…

However, Piper Jaffray only surveyed people who had chosen not to upgrade to the iPhone X. The roughly 40 percent noted above is the sum of the 31 percent and the 8 percent. The Macalope isn’t sure why Piper Jaffray chose to highlight the sum of those two numbers rather than the 44 percent of people who said they didn’t upgrade because their existing iPhones were working just fine. Most likely it was to highlight the fact that Apple was expected to alleviate both of those problems with new iPhones rumored to be introduced this year. But no good news for Apple goes unpunished.

Just look at the missed implication of what Murdock says. Even though it’s not what the survey actually said, imagine reading “only 40 percent chose to upgrade” and thinking “Oh! Bad news for Apple!” when that would have meant a whopping 60 percent of people had upgraded to a $999 phone. That would have been bananasly good for Apple. Like brandy-and-brown-sugar-soaked flaming kind of bananasly good.

Despite the lacklustre reception to its latest models…

Objection, your honor. Assumes facts not in evidence.

The company was recently forced to admit to slowing down older smartphone models…

Instead of having them shut down, yes. “Sorry, we made your phone not do something bad.” Despite this, more people cited their existing iPhones being just fine than any other reason for not upgrading to the iPhone X.

…and has faced increasing concerns over child labor.

Other smartphone, electric car and other device manufacturers get cobalt for the batteries in their products from mines staffed by happy, singing dwarves. True fact. Why Apple doesn’t source their cobalt and mithril from dwarvish mines is a real mystery.

This survey only tells us about people who chose not to upgrade and their biggest reasons for doing so. It says nothing about the success of the iPhone X because it says nothing about the split between those who did upgrade and those who didn’t.

But, then, Newsweek was just askin’.

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