One day Apple may look back on its great iPhone X adventure and view it as an embarrassing midlife crisis, like running off with the au pair.
The iPhone 8, based on a four-year-old design, was the best-selling phone in the world in May, according to Counterpoint Research. Samsung's Galaxy S9 Plus took second place. The X still sold well, but in third place.
Apple CEO Tim Cook set out to refute reports about disappointing sales of the $999 iPhone X with a factoid, when he addressed financial analysts on the most recent earnings. The factoid was considered so significant, Apple included it in its earnings press release.
"Customers chose iPhone X more than any other iPhone each week in the March quarter, just as they did following its launch in the December quarter."
But that sprint in first place didn't last long. The 8 is again Apple's best-seller. Samsung had grabbed the top two spots for April, according to Counterpoint, which noted that Apple's blockbuster marketing stepped in for the summer.
It's not hard to see why customers prefer the 8 to the more advanced X. The 8 gives you plenty of iPhone – perhaps all the iPhone you need – and you have £300 left over. Enough for a decent telly. It's a near-perfect design, although most owners would gladly sacrifice a couple of millimetres for a longer lasting battery. The 8 Plus, also a four-year-old design, nevertheless has the same imaging as the X, more endurance, and you're £200 richer.
The X is far from a flop, but Cook acknowledged it wasn't the runaway success Apple wanted. Apple faced many questions about inventory on its most recent earnings, claiming that the lower-than-hoped demand had resulted in component glut (mostly someone else's problem) rather than an iPhone X glut (definitely Apple's problem).
For a conventional manufacturer of technology products, an inventory glut is a horrible problem, as the price of finished goods and components is always falling. But Apple has the scale to mitigate such issues. It doesn't cut the price of an iPhone until it's superseded by the next generation model.
The rumour mill suggests Apple is being sensible rather than stubborn, with multicoloured 6.1-inch models that retain the design of the X – but most likely shun expensive OLED display panels in favour of cheaper LCD panels – for $700.