iPhone Set for Record ASPs and Oprah’s Deal is Reportedly Done

The Daily Observation Deck Feature

Looking out from the Observation Deck, today sees Apple breaking average selling price records for the iPhone. Analysts are happy about who’s buying which iPhone 14 models, Foxconn is already assembling the handsets in India and Tim Cook visits London. We’ve also got Oprah Winfrey and Apple letting their multiyear contract expire and people trying to break the Apple Watch Ultra. Oh, and don’t forget, we do this whole Observation Deck routine as a podcast each morning, too.

FT: Apple Set to Break iPhone ASP Record Two-Quarters in a Row

A crazy/not crazy assertion form Counterpoint Research, by way of the Financial Times. According to the research firm, according to the paper, Apple is going to break its record for iPhone average selling price in the September-quarter, then it’s going to do it again in the December-quarter. Counterpoint figures iPhone ASP will hit a record $892 for the fourth-quarter of FY22, followed by an ASP of $944 for the first-quarter of FY23. 

This makes sense. iPhone 14 Pro orders and sales only account for two or three weeks of the September-quarter. While they seem to have driven iPhone ASP up, they had very few weeks in which to do that. The December-quarter will be the first full quarter of iPhone 14 Pro sales, giving it a full three-months to drive up ASPs. 

Evercore Sees Strength in iPhone Intent

Of course, that assumes that most iPhones sold will be on the Pro end. Evercore analyst Amit Daryanani seems to see that as a safe assumption. The analyst cites a recent survey of 4,000 folks. Of those likely to buy an iPhone, 56% plan to go Pro. That’s up from 41% last year, according to the report. Financial Times had Daryanani increasing his firm’s “iPhone revenue estimates for the next four quarters on the back of stronger than expected ASPs…”

Mr. Daryanani has a positive rating on Apple shares. His price target on the shares is $190.

Wedbush Analyst Jazzed Over iPhone Orders and ASPs

Loving every minute of everything he’s seen from iPhone 14 is Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives. A piece from Yahoo Finance has Mr. Ives commenting on iPhone sales, ASPs, and Apple’s recent stock performance. 

Judging sales for Apple’s latest iPhone to be skewing 85% to 90% for the Pro end, Ives figures iPhone ASPs are 8% to 10% better than this time last year. While sales may drop, “at least so far,” it seems to him that “supply is more the issue than demand.”

Despite how good orders are looking for iPhone 14 Pro and Apple Watch Ultra, Apple shares have been caught in the September sell-off. “Apple shares are down about 8% in the past month,” according to Yahoo Finance, “bringing the year-to-date drop to 15%.” That’s a bit much for Mr. Ives. Such numbers indicate a coming “5% to 7% numbers cut” on Apple’s part. “I just don’t believe you are going to see it,” says Ives, “based on what we are seeing today.”

Mr. Ives has a positive rating on Apple shares. His price target on the shares is $220. 

Foxconn Starts iPhone 14 Production in India Months Earlier Than Expected

India’s iPhone 14 production has ramped up ahead of schedule. Well… ahead of the latest schedule. In early August TF International analyst Ming-Chi Kuo hit Twitter saying it looked to him like Foxconn would start producing iPhone 14 in China and India “almost simultaneously,” something they have never done before. Didn’t stick, though. On the first of September, he hit Twitter again, saying:

…The iPhone 14’s mass production schedule in India this year is still about six weeks behind China, but the gap has improved significantly.

May have stuck? A piece published Monday in Bloomberg says:

Apple Inc. began making its new iPhone 14 in India sooner than anticipated, after a surprisingly smooth production rollout that slashed the lag between Chinese and Indian output from months to mere weeks.

Hard to know whether Ming-Chi Kuo’s expectation was met or bested. The Bloomberg piece had that publication expecting iPhone 14 production in India to start a couple of months after the phone’s launch. That expectation was certainly beaten. While it’s possible that the TF International analyst’s expectations were beaten as well, we’d have to know exactly when iPhone 14 production kicked off in China to be certain. 

Apple has confirmed the Bloomberg story with almost no detail. The company simply told the site, “We’re excited to be manufacturing iPhone 14 in India.”

Apple Offers Festive Season Discount Online in India

India’s Navratri festive season is underway, and Apple is offering significant discounts for it. Cult of Mac says the Cupertino-company is offering a discount of 7% on purchases of at least Rs 41,900 — ~US$513. This is for purchases made through Apple’s online store on the subcontinent. Cult of Mac says:

It is rare for Apple to offer discounts on its products through its online store. With this offer, the company is trying to capitalize on the festive season where smartphone shipments usually peak for all manufacturers.

Capitalize in a festive season that some worry will not be as festive as seasons past. While searching online to learn more about India’s festive season, the first article I came across was one from Quartz lamenting a festive season “without the spirit.” It’s not a piece overly concerned with spirit nor festivities, but with economics. Quoting that piece:

Indian consumers, tempered by inflation and with their hopes dashed by an erratic monsoon, may not spend heavily this coming festive season.

Some 35% of them do not plan to spend anything at all, a survey by social community platform LocalCircles has shown. Out of the remaining 65% who may, the budget was 10,000 rupees [~$123] —the comparable figure for 2020 was Rs15,000 [~$184].

Things You Should Not Do to Apple Watch Ultra

Two things you probably don’t want to do with your Apple Watch Ultra. Thing one: Just because you can open the watch up relatively easily does not mean you should. AppleInsider has word of a teardown of the device by iFixit. Don’t let the exposed screws fool you. “The screen looks challenging to repair,” according to the report, “with the test model breaking even under the professional hands of iFixit.”

The fix-it-yourself folks have not published a full teardown. The AppleInsider piece was written based on a video teardown, which you can catch on YouTube. iFixit does not appear to have given Apple Watch Ultra a 1-to-10 repairability score at this point. 

Thing two you probably shouldn’t do with your Apple Watch Ultra: Just because you can beat the bleep out of it with a hammer does not mean you should. 

Cult of Mac writes up the smackdown delivered to Apple’s $800 watch by YouTuber TechRax. Yes, that’s the same TechRax who tested iPhone 14 Pro’s Crash Detection feature last week. 

For Apple’s rough-and-tumble wearable, TechRax dropped it facedown on concrete. That produced minor scratches to the case, but no hit to functionality. He then shook the watch inside a jar of nails — again, no hit to performance. And so — out came the hammer. “As a more extreme test,” says the Cult: 

…the YouTuber repeatedly slammed the Apple Watch Ultra’s face with a hammer. And surprisingly, the wearable survived them all…initially. In fact, the table on which the test was being done broke first.

Eventually, the piece says, the watch stopped working. A few more whacks and the sapphire crystal glass shattered. That’s kind of incredible, actually: The watch stopped working, then the display broke. Kind of trippy. You can see TechRax put the hammer down (repeatedly) on YouTube.

Report: Apple TV+ Not Renewing Big Content Deal with Oprah Winfrey

The Queen of All Media and the all things iMaker are modifying their relationship. 9to5Mac highlights a report from the media site Puck that says the big, multi-year deal between Oprah Winfrey and Apple TV+ is not being renewed. 

Oprah has produced a few titles for the Cupertino-streamer since their deal was signed in 2018. Among them are “The Me You Can’t See,” “The Oprah Conversation,” “Oprah’s Book Club,” “Oprah Talks COVID-19,” and Sidney — the documentary about actor and activist Sidney Poitier. 

Her deal with Apple was not exclusive. Still, indications in the piece are that Cupertino was disappointed that some of her biggest gets, including her Harry and Megan interview and her special about singer Adele, went to other outlets. As Puck puts it though: 

…that’s the deal they made. And Apple at least got a perception boost out of signing Oprah back in 2018, when Netflix and Amazon both wanted her. She was key in vouching for the nascent AppleTV+ at that weird celebrity cattle call in Cupertino back in March 2019, months before the service launched. “They’re in a billion pockets, y’all. A billion pockets,” she said, instantly explaining why so many top artists would sign on to Apple sight unseen.

While the big deal may be dead, little deals persist. The piece says that Apple TV+ and Oprah will work together on a “project-by-project basis,” though the days of the “very expensive press releases are [said to be] over.”

Five More Things…

A bit of a parting shot from the Apple/Oprah content deal: Sidney, the documentary about Sidney Poitier produced by Oprah for Apple TV+, started streaming last Friday. To celebrate that, another piece from 9to5Mac says Apple’s streaming service is making five of Poitier’s films available to watch at no additional cost. You do have to be an Apple TV+ subscriber though, and the free views are limited to folks in the U.S. The five titles are:

The easiest way to find the films is to go to the Poitier documentary then scroll to the bottom of the page. The films will be free to view until the end of October, according to 9to5Mac. 

Cook & Co. Take London

And finally today, if you follow Apple CEO Tim Cook on Twitter, you’ve seen a few interesting sights around London in the last few days. 

On Sunday, Apple’s CEO posted a pic and a message from Apple’s store in Covent Garden. The message said simply how good it was to be back in London and thanking everyone for the warm welcome. Of course Apple has more than one store in the area, and Cook hit a couple more — posting pics from Apple Brompton Road and Regent Street. 

Monday, Cook Tweeted about a partnership between Apple and Southbank Centre. The partnership, Apple’s first Racial Equity and Justice Initiative op in the UK, will see the two organizations support emerging Black creatives in the United Kingdom. 

Later on Monday, Apple’s CEO teased the Cupertino-company’s Battersea Power Station renovation. Calling the reno “a tribute to [London] and a reflection of [the company’s] commitment to Apple’s future in the UK,” the post featured artist renderings of what the refinished facility will look like on the inside. This deal has been a long time coming. First announced in 2018, a piece from AppleInsider says plans had been for workers to start working there by 2021. But, you know plans and the last few years. Cook’s Tweet says the work move-in is set for early 2023. 

And he is not done. Another Twitter post had Cook meeting today with the “class of all-female founders at [Apple’s] first Foundations program in the UK.” That was followed by another Tweet that had the CEO and Lisa Jackson taking in a performance of musicians supported by Apple at the company’s Platoon Studios. 

Probably the most meta post of them all was on Monday, though. That one had members of the cast of “Ted Lasso” and members of Apple’s executive team in a box at the AFC Richmond Stadium, cheering as if they’ve just seen the game-winning goal. 

Eddy Cue and Lisa Jackson really look like they’ve just seen something. It’s kind of crazy. 

The Observation Deck Has Podcasts, ICYMI

On today’s Daily Observations podcast from The Mac Observer — TMO Managing Editor Jeff Butts and I look at iPhone’s rising ASP, iPhone production in India, and the apparent parting of ways between Apple and Oprah. That’s all today on The Mac Observer’s Daily Observations Podcast — online at macobserver.com, or wherever you get podcasts.

Speaking of which, I got to be on the radio in the bay area Monday morning. Longtime friend Rob Black had me on — at a time of day I personally find ungodly. I think it went well though. Feel free to find out for yourself. The show gets turned into a podcast. That podcast is called the Rob Black Show… find it at RobBlack.com — or wherever you get podcasts.

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