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iPhone 8 -- how late can you tolerate?

Commentary: With insistent suggestions that the new flagship iPhone may be delayed, how long are customers prepared to wait?

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


How long will you wait for your, um, X?

TVC-Mall.com

The bit-by-bit leaks have turned into torrents

Apple will (supposedly) release three phones. Two will be updates of previous generations. One will be the brand new gadget of the near future. Or at least, something you can show off in the near present.

Yet this (allegedly) most exciting iPhone -- once referred to as iPhone 8, then rumored to be called iPhone Edition and now strongly rumored to be called iPhone X -- may not arrive in people's hands soon after Tuesday's unveiling.

Some reports suggest the rabid Apple fanpersons may have to wait a month for satiation, because production glitches will persist. 

But what if it's more? Is there a breaking point? What if it's six weeks? What if it drags on into November, with nary an iPhone X being seen in the wild? 

At what point will some people's patience be exhausted? At what point will some forsake all equilibrium and loyalty and decide to buy, say, a Galaxy Note 8?

Bernstein analyst Tony Sacconaghi tried to put a date on it. He told CNBC: "If the phone is materially constrained once we hit the holiday season, post-October 15, then it's worrisome."

His prognosis went further. "If [the iPhone 8 is] delayed and consumers feel they won't get it until 2018, you run the risk that people will look to other devices."

But as we know in relationships, looking doesn't necessarily mean touching. And touching doesn't necessarily mean buying.

Won't there still be this nagging feeling of: "Well, I've waited this long. What's another few weeks?"

Moreover, switching from one ecosystem to another only seems easy. The more time goes on and the more you have invested in one ecosystem -- especially one that clings to simplicity, as Apple's does -- the more arduous a prospect it feels to change. 

There's a further nuance. Apple buyers have become used to products being delayed or even consistently unavailable. 

Cupertino's AirPods, for example, were released on December 13 last year. How many have you seen dotting the landscapes your morning hikes and adorning ears? Even now, nine months later, the media marvels that AirPod shipping estimates have been reduced to one or two weeks.

The HomePod smart speaker, too, was proudly unveiled on June 5 at the Worldwide Developers Conference. It is scheduled to be available in December. And how available do you think it will be? Some experts say not very.

It's as if Apple has increasingly relied on getting consumers to salivate in the sure knowledge that the products are so tantalizing that people won't look elsewhere. However much the waiting hurts.

Perhaps the most important thing will be for Apple to be very clear about the new phone's availability and to stick to that promise. 

If it falters, that's when Samsung should have a ready-prepared campaign to woo the frustrated. 

A suggested tagline: "It may not be the next big thing. But at least it's here."