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Apple Inc.'s Post-iPhone X Super Cycle

Over the course of the next year, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is expected to enjoy what some refer to as a "super cycle." The idea behind a super cycle is simple: Thanks to a large leap in features and form factor in a new iPhone, current iPhone users will accelerate the pace at which they upgrade their smartphones to buy the latest iPhone.

Image source: Apple.

It's widely expected that Apple's iPhone X, which was introduced during Apple's Sept. 12 keynote and will go on sale Nov. 3, will trigger such a super cycle thanks to a sleek new form factor, inclusion of a full-face organic light emitting diode (OLED) display, the TrueDepth camera, and other new features.

For a while, I wondered how Apple planned to at least maintain, if not grow, iPhone shipments and revenue in the post-iPhone X product cycle.

However, I'm now reasonably convinced that Apple could enjoy, perhaps, a second super-cycle once next year's iPhones launch.

From one amazing phone to three

Although I think Apple did a fine job with the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, it seems that a lot of people are put off by the fact that the devices retain the same basic shapes and bezel sizes as did the last three pairs of iPhones.

That's disappointing, but not entirely unexpected.

This year, then, if a potential iPhone buyer truly wants an all-new iPhone, then she or he has only one option: iPhone X.

I expect that there will be a lot of folks who will justify the added costs to themselves. After all, a $200 premium to the iPhone 8 Plus or even a $300 premium to the iPhone 8, isn't that big a deal when the cost is spread out over the course of a year or two.

I think iPhone X will be a huge hit that'll ultimately help Apple grow its iPhone unit shipments and average selling prices year-over-year during the coming product cycle.

However, there have been reports that more value-conscious iPhone buyers, seeing little obvious difference between the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8, are choosing to go with the cheaper iPhone 7. Though this isn't a move I'd encourage, the reality is that most consumers might not care.

Next year, however, Apple's lineup should be more interesting.

If the rumor mill is to be believed -- and I think it should be considering that, in general, it tends to nail the big picture details about future iPhones -- Apple is prepping three new iPhones for next year. The first will be an iPhone with a new type of liquid crystal display that will enable a near-borderless design, the next will be a direct successor to this year's iPhone X, and then the third should be a larger-screen iPhone X.

I expect the next iPhone X and its larger counterpart to continue to sell for premium prices, but the new LCD iPhone should bring a lot of the goodness of the iPhone X (e.g. slimmer bezels, Face ID, new internals) in a slightly cheaper package.

The kinds of customers who would've bought the iPhone X this year should still, for the most part, buy one of Apple's newer iPhone X models during the next cycle (in fact, the addition of an even larger-screen option could help catalyze both upgrade activity and an even richer product mix), but the redesigned LCD iPhone should be able to attract those customers who passed on the iPhone 8 in favor of discounted iPhone 7 phones.

On top of that, it should be attractive to those customers that found this year's iPhone X too pricey but didn't want to buy the iPhone 8 or even a discounted iPhone 7 phone (e.g. iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s owners that don't think the iPhone 7 or iPhone 8 represent big enough upgrades due to the similar form factor to their current phones).

In other words: Apple should be able to convince a larger portion of the iPhone installed base to upgrade to new phones next year thanks to a broader, even more vibrant product portfolio than what it currently has today.

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Ashraf Eassa has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple and short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.