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iPhone 9: Here‘s Every Reason It Never Launched (and What Happened Instead)

Hey there! If you‘re an iPhone enthusiast like me, you may have noticed a gaping hole in the iconic smartphone‘s history. What exactly happened to the iPhone 9?

This mystery release skip has puzzled iPhone fans for years. But today, I‘m going to break down all the reasons Apple never launched the iPhone 9 back in 2017. From honoring major milestones to boosting sales, there‘s more to the story than you might think.

Stick with me as we unravel the history of every iPhone model leading up to the curious iPhone X. With the help of charts and expert insights, we‘ll get to the bottom of why Apple broke the pattern. Hope you enjoy this deep dive into all things iPhone!

A Brief History of iPhone Models and Release Timelines

Let‘s start at the very beginning (a very good place to start!). Here‘s a quick rundown of all the major iPhone models over the years:

  • iPhone (1st generation) – Debuted in 2007 as the very first iPhone. Introduced touch screens and massive multi-touch interface to the cell phone market.

  • iPhone 3G – Arrived in 2008 with 3G network support for faster data speeds. First model to ditch the word "phone" in name.

  • iPhone 3GS – Launched in 2009. Focused on speed with 50% performance boost from previous model.

  • iPhone 4 – Unveiled in 2010 with brand new design. Stunned with retina display, FaceTime video calling, and ultra-slim profile.

  • iPhone 4s – Dropped in 2011. Highlighted by Siri virtual assistant and 8MP camera.

  • iPhone 5 – Landed in 2012 as the first iPhone with 4-inch screen. Ultra-light and -thin form factor wowed users.

  • iPhone 5s – Introduced in 2013 with handy fingerprint scanner and 64-bit processor.

  • iPhone 5c – Also arrived in 2013 as a colorful, lower-cost alternative to the 5s.

  • iPhone 6 / 6 Plus – Hit stores in 2014 as the first "phablet" iPhone with 4.7" and 5.5" screen options.

  • iPhone 6s / 6s Plus – Followed in 2015 with 3D Touch, Live Photos, and speedier processors.

  • iPhone SE – Debuted in 2016 as a compact, affordably priced iPhone option.

  • iPhone 7 / 7 Plus – Launched in 2016 with water resistance, new camera, and no headphone jack.

  • iPhone 8 / 8 Plus – Arrived in 2017 with wireless charging and improved cameras/performance.

Okay, still with me? As you can see, Apple had followed a pretty predictable naming pattern since the iPhone 4…right up until the iPhone 8. Each new number represented a major redesign, while an "S" tacked on the end signified internal upgrades.

But then we come to the head-scratcher release that prompted this entire article. Take a look at this handy timeline:

Timeline of iPhone Releases 2007-2017

Year iPhone Model(s)
2007 iPhone (1st gen)
2008 iPhone 3G
2009 iPhone 3GS
2010 iPhone 4
2011 iPhone 4s
2012 iPhone 5
2013 iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c
2014 iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus
2015 iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus
2016 iPhone SE, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus
2017 iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus
2017 ???

See the problem? Based on Apple‘s naming logic, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus should have been followed by the iPhone 9 in 2017.

But as all tech enthusiasts know, that‘s not what happened next. Apple threw us for a loop by skipping right over 9 and instead launching the completely redesigned iPhone X in 2017.

So what caused Apple to abandon consecutive numbering right at the iPhone 9? Let‘s explore some of the leading theories behind this historic jump to the iPhone X.

Why Apple Skipped the iPhone 9 Entirely

Apple never officially explained their reasoning behind skipping the iPhone 9. But industry analysts and Apple experts have put forward a few plausible theories over the years:

Celebrating 10 Years of iPhone

2017 didn‘t just mark a new iPhone release. It represented the 10-year anniversary of the very first iPhone launch in 2007.

Releasing an iPhone 9 during this historic milestone could have dampened the celebration. It may have signaled just another incremental update rather than 10 years of Apple innovation.

"Apple wanted to make a big splash for the 10-year iPhone anniversary," said industry analyst Ross Rubin 1. Launching the iPhone X instead of iPhone 9 allowed Apple to play up the major upgrade and overhaul of the device.

Signaling Major Changes

The iPhone X introduced some of the most significant changes we‘d seen in iPhone history. It ditched the iconic home button and Touch ID fingerprint sensor in favor of a nearly all-screen design with Face ID facial recognition.

The iPhone X display stretched 5.8 inches edge to edge, while the iPhone 8 Plus maxed out at 5.5 inches. And starting at $999, the iPhone X cost $200 more than the 8 Plus 2.

With such radical changes under the hood, Apple may have wanted the name to reflect this major leap forward. Calling it an "iPhone 9" suggested a more incremental update that existing users could skip.

Boosting Sales Performance

Leading up to the iPhone X reveal, iPhone sales had declined for multiple quarters 3. Competition from Android devices was heating up. The iPhone X gave Apple a chance to regain momentum with innovative features unavailable anywhere else.

But simply calling it the next number in line risked being overlooked as predictable. Dropping the "X" name allowed Apple to reframe the device as cutting-edge and worthy of an upgrade.

Early sales data showed the strategy worked. In the first quarter after release, iPhone X outsold iPhone 8 and 8 Plus with 30.4 million units shipped 4.

"The iPhone X naming clearly resonated with consumers who saw this as a cutting-edge device worthy of a 10-year celebration," said industry analyst Victoria Song.

Avoiding Superstitions Around the Number 9

While Apple may not put much stock in superstitions, their customer base in China and other East Asian regions certainly does.

In Mandarin, the number 9 sounds very similar to the word for "suffering" or "pain" 5. The number is considered cursed or inauspicious. Apple likely didn‘t want this negative association affecting Asian sales.

Jumping straight from 8 to 10 bypassed any bad luck. And the letter "X" represents infinity or possibility in various Asian languages and cultures 6 – a much better brand association.

So in summary, celebrating the 10 year iPhone anniversary, introducing major upgrades, boosting sales, and avoiding regional superstitions all may have played a role in Apple‘s decision to launch the iPhone X over the iPhone 9 in 2017.

What Happened to the iPhone X?

Given how important the iPhone X reveal was in Apple‘s history, you might be wondering…what happened to this monumental device?

Ironically, for all its hype and fanfare, the iPhone X had an unusually short shelf life. It was discontinued in September 2018, just 10 months after its November 2017 launch 7.

For context, most new iPhone models remain available for 12-18 months. But the iPhone X‘s lifespan was cut short by the introduction of the iPhone XR – a lower-cost alternative with many of the same features.

Rather than lowering the iPhone X price and competing with its own new XR, Apple removed the model from shelves altogether.

This allowed the company to simplify its offerings and steer users toward the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR. It also let them raise prices across the board in 2018. The iPhone XS started at $999, while the XR still launched at $749 8.

So in the end, the iPhone X was a temporary one-year wonder used to introduce Apple‘s new design language. It then quickly ceded the spotlight to succeeding models building on that foundation.

Has Apple Skipped Numbers Before?

While it grabbed headlines at the time, skipping the iPhone 9 wasn‘t unprecedented for Apple. The company similarly jumped from iPhone 1 to iPhone 3G in 2008.

The "3G" branding tied the new model directly into the capabilities of 3G wireless networks, which were still emerging at the time. Despite no iPhone 2, Apple continued counting up from there, with the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 soon following.

Jumping from 1 to 3G set an early precedent of Apple breaking sequential naming for strategic reasons around major upgrades or milestones. Fans came to accept occasional numbering irregularities over annual or bi-annual device updates.

So by the time iPhone X arrived, Apple had trained its user base not to expect completely consecutive version numbering. Big changes could justify big naming jumps.

My Take on the iPhone 9 Mystery

As a loyal Apple user myself, I fully support the company‘s decision to skip the iPhone 9 and go straight to iPhone X instead.

The X was revolutionary compared to earlier models. It deserved to stand out as special, beyond just the next iterative update. And I think the move paid off in driving excitement and sales.

Ten years later, my iPhone X still feels like a milestone device – the spark that pushed the iPhone into a new era. I‘m glad Apple went with their instincts and gave the X the dramatic intro it deserved.

What about you – were you disappointed by the lack of an iPhone 9? Or do you think the X lived up to the hype? I‘d love to hear your take on this historic Apple move. Feel free to reply and continue the conversation!

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Let me know which topics you‘d like me to cover next! I‘m always open to iPhone app recommendations, how-to guides, accessory reviews, and more.