Apple is known for releasing a new iPhone every year. However, in 2017, just one year after the launch of the iPhone 7, the Cupertino tech giant decided to shake things up a bit. The iPhone X succeeded the iPhone 8 series, skipping the iPhone 9 entirely.
This article will delve deeper into the intricacies of why the iPhone 9 was never released and the underlying issue Apple had with the number 9.
Table of Contents
- A Bit of iPhone History
- Why Did Apple Skip the iPhone 9?
- Apple’s Marketing May Not Be Sequential, But It’s Certainly Not Illogical
- Apple’s Not the Only Company to Skip a Number
A Bit of iPhone History
Contrary to popular opinion, Apple hasn’t been particularly consistent in its approach to naming iPhones throughout its history. For instance, the first iPhones, specifically the iPhone 2G and 3G, were named in a way that reflected their compatibility with the corresponding cellular network technology.
The numbering system for iPhones, like most modern manufacturers, typically indicated an incremental upgrade each year. However, in 2017, Apple deviated from this pattern by introducing the iPhone 8 in September ’17. Just three weeks later, a completely new iPhone hit the market, the iPhone X—noticeably skipping the iPhone 9.
As if releasing two series of phones within same year, wasn’t strange enough, Apple also opted to change the naming convention for the iPhone. They shifted from using numbers (iPhone “8”) to Roman numerals (iPhone “X”). But the question remained—why did the iPhone 9 never make it to the market?
Why Did Apple Skip the iPhone 9?
Apple never publicly gave a statement as to why the iPhone 9 was skipped, leaving us to speculate. However, it seems that Apple had a good reason to do so. And now that we hear the word “iPhone 9,” it seems kind of strange. Here’s why it didn’t happen:
1. To Commemorate iPhone’s 10th Anniversary
Apple’s first smartphone, the iPhone 2G was launched all the way back in 2007, and the year 2017 marked its 10th year anniversary. Apple wanted to honor this decade of success within its most profitable product lineup by announcing the iPhone X. The “X” in its name represents the Roman numeral for 10.
In 2017, the latest iPhones that had already been released were the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. If Apple had skipped two generations and jumped straight to the iPhone X, it would have seemed absurd. Therefore, they introduced the iPhone 8 series, which was largely similar to its predecessor, before subsequently announcing the more expensive iPhone X.
2. The Turning Point in iPhone Lineup
The iPhone X marked the start of a new era in iPhone history. It completely changed the way we perceive iPhones—the huge top and bottom bezels were ditched alongside the TouchID in favor of the more secure FaceID. In fact, the infamous notch was also first introduced in the iPhone X.
It laid the basis of the iPhone we’ve come to know of today, and still continues to impress, more than half a decade after its release. So naturally, for an upgrade this big, it made perfect sense for Apple to approach its marketing differently.
If Apple had chosen to name the iPhone X as the iPhone 9, it might not have conveyed the magnitude of the changes effectively. Interestingly, Apple didn’t even opt for the name “iPhone 10,” but rather “X,” which was intended to give it a more premium appeal.
3. To Justify $1000 via Clever Marketing
Since the iPhone X was seen as a huge change in the company’s product lineup, it also came with a significant price hike. The iPhone X was the first iPhone to come in at $1000, which was a $350 increase compared to previous year’s $649 iPhone 7. Apple, however, was not merely aiming to convince users to purchase the phone, but it also wanted to avoid giving the impression that this was just another incremental upgrade.
In the tech industry, price hikes often lead to considerable backlash, even if the increase is as small as $100. Surprisingly, the iPhone X managed to escape much of this criticism. Most of this is due to the fact that Apple chose to skip the expected “iPhone 9” and opted for the more dramatic and premium sounding name, iPhone X.
4. Psychological Strategy and Cultural Sensitivity
The shift to iPhone X potentially served a dual purpose for Apple. On one hand, the number 10 is universally perceived as a symbol of completion, perfection, and a fresh start, suggesting a significant leap in technological advancement. This positions the iPhone X as not just another incremental upgrade but a true evolution in Apple’s lineup, influencing consumer behavior towards seeing it as the “next big thing.
Simultaneously, Apple, with its global presence, might have considered cultural nuances. In some cultures, the number 9 carries negative connotations. By opting for iPhone X, Apple not only emphasized innovation but also showcased cultural mindfulness, ensuring a positive global reception.
Apple’s Marketing May Not Be Sequential, But It’s Certainly Not Illogical
Like we’ve discussed earlier, Apple may not have taken its naming scheme too seriously in its early days, where better marketing strategies weighed more than simply adhering to a sequential order. However, Apple has never gone so far as to name an iPhone in a way that doesn’t make any sense.
Following the iPhone X, Apple decided to adopt a “fragmentation strategy” the next year, releasing not the iPhone 11 series, but the iPhone XS, XR, and XS Max. However, the year later, in 2019, we finally saw the release of iPhone 11 and the naming convention has been consistent ever since. But, there was a time when rumors circulated that the iPhone 9 may as well see the light of the day.
The iPhone SE 2020
In 2020, rumors started circling around that Apple is going to release a new budget smartphone around the $400 price point. While many believed it be the next generation of the iPhone SE, there were some that referred to this as the iPhone 9, even though it didn’t make any sense.
Apple wouldn’t want to fill the number 9 gap if it didn’t mean anything and from a marketing standpoint too, it would’ve felt like an older device and this would’ve affected sales. This is why the 2020 budget Apple smartphone device was officially named as the iPhone SE 2020, and not the iPhone 9.
Apple’s Not the Only Company to Skip a Number
Apple is not the only company that has skipped a possible iterative upgrade. Microsoft also skipped Windows 9 and upgraded directly from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 to signify the importance of the upgrade. Samsung did a similar thing by jumping from the S10 to the S20 to keep their product line consistent with the year.
Perhaps the numbers are merely a marketing tool and not to be taken too seriously? Such rocket science!
While the iPhone 9 never really saw the light of the day, it did make for an interesting topic of discussion back in the late 2010s. However, Apple has now tidied up its naming scheme across the iPhone lineup, and it flows in a complete sequential order.
Most likely, there will not be an iPhone 9. Apple would rather leave that gap unfilled and let it remain a topic of speculation and discussion.
While a lot of rumors back in 2019 did point to this happening, it is fair to say that the iPhone 9 is not part of any of Apple’s official branding, so no.
It was done to commemorate iPhone’s 10th anniversary and to signify the importance of this upgrade.