Apple's pricey new iPhone is only for 'rich people' and that's a problem, one analyst says

Key Points
  • One analyst was less than impressed with Apple's iPhone X unveil, saying it will only attract "relatively rich people" who "care deeply" about their phone's appearance.
  • KeyBanc analyst Andy Hargreaves also believes the new iPhone shows Apple may have trouble providing enough new features in future editions of the phones to justify upgrades by consumers.
  • Though Apple shares have risen 39 percent this year, the company's share price dropped slightly on Tuesday afternoon following the announcement, closing down 0.4 percent.
Apple CEO Tim Cook
Josh Edelson | AFP | Getty Images

One Wall Street analyst went against his bullish peers and was less than impressed with Apple's latest iPhone unveil.

The $999 price tag of Apple's iPhone X represents a "substantial increase that seems justifiable only for relatively rich people who care deeply about the appearance of their phone," wrote KeyBanc analyst Andy Hargreaves in a note Tuesday.

He noted that the smartphone is the most expensive mobile from Apple to date, about $300 more than the price of a new iPhone 8.

Hargreaves differs sharply with his analyst peers, who largely gushed over the more swanky model. Drexel Hamilton's Brian White wrote that "Apple took the iPhone franchise to a whole new level with the iPhone X," praising the company for its venture into the "ultra-luxury" smartphone market.

But the KeyBanc analyst has an even bigger reason for being cautious on Apple shares than whether or not targeting wealthier customers is a good idea.

"The lack of compelling features in the iPhone X also raises longer-term concerns about Apple's pricing power," he wrote. "The iPhone X suggests compelling new features may be difficult to come by going forward, which could imply a period of elongating average holding periods and falling ASPs after a peak in FY18."

But to be sure, Apple retains fierce brand loyalty as well as a strong hold on consumers through "network effects, content lock-up, and learned experience with iOS," Hargreaves acknowledged, an environment consumers would be hard-pressed to leave.

Apple shares were up nearly 40 percent this year into the release. However, the stock finished Tuesday down 0.4 percent following the announcement and fell another 1.5 percent in midmorning trading Wednesday as investors appeared to side more with Hargreaves than the majority of his peers.

The analyst has a sector weight rating on Apple.

Correction: Apple's shares fell another 1.5 percent Wednesday. An earlier version misstated the day.