If the next Apple announcement is like this, it should be broadcast on Cable TV so viewers can fast forward through the many boring parts. A GEICO insurance commercial would have been a relief from the tedium of watching Tim Cook, Jony Ive, and Phil Schiller shoveling superlative adjectives on features copied from Android phone makers and other product companies.
Apple isn’t selling innovation. It’s selling its annual iPhone annual upgrade plan, which costs users twice as much over a three-year period, in order to turn around declining sales. Apple’s innovation engine has stalled at producing features that drive users to upgrade, so Apple is resorting to a financial gimmick.
The expensive iPhone annual upgrade plan – Apple’s solution to declining iPhone sales
The entry level price of a new iPhone is always $650. Over three years, the annual upgrade plan costs about $1,150, nearly twice as much. Consumers who change their mind about the upgrade plan will have a fourth year to pay.
The trade-ins give Apple a supply of used iPhones to refurbish as hand-me-down entry-level phones to sell to consumers who don’t want to buy an overpriced new iPhone to compete with equally capable lower cost Android phones.
Will Apple’s plan to churn the iPhones of its most fashion conscious fans solve its declining iPhone sales woes. ARC’s mobile editor, Dan Rowinski who has been following mobile for years, says the data isn’t encouraging.
Without a new category of apps, iPhone users won’t care if the iPhone 7 is faster
The iPhone 7’s A10 processor will beat older iPhones when benchmarked. But benchmarks don’t measure user experience running apps. It will be difficult for users to perceive the difference when running apps like Instagram and WeChat or browsing the web.
Compounding this problem, app developers are obsessed with making their apps run well on older phones to prevent users from uninstalling them.
The iPhone 7 Camera has great potential despite Apple’s limited vision
Apple overlooked explaining the two features that when combined represent the greatest potential for an entirely new category of apps that could give users rock-solid reasons to upgrade, the iPhone 7 Plus’ dual camera and the A10 processor.
Two cameras act like the human eye giving the processor a human representation of the three-dimensional world. The A10 and its GPU have the horsepower to render the cameras’ 3-D view into a meaningful context.
For example, the dual cameras and A10 could be used to create enhanced augmented reality apps such as 3D Pokémon rendered standing on the ground instead of floating in the air.
The iPhone 7 Plus camera as presented by Apple is unique in just one way, it has an optical zoom. Although just a very modest 2X zoom, it fits into a thin 0.29-inch smartphone form factor. Apple engineered a first for a change!
A tiny mechanical assembly designed to move the lenses, adjusting the focal length to zoom in on a subject without reducing the image’s resolution, is a significant engineering accomplishment. Except for 2X zoom, Android phone makers have built similar cameras Everything else is just a copy.
The HTC One M8 had two cameras. And HTC has produced a number of excellent f/1.8 aperture cameras. HTC, Huawei, and Samsung have built phones with 12MP OIS sensors with large 1.55µm pixel size.The HTC UltraPixel camera even has 2.0µm pixel sensor and an f/2.0 aperture.
Apple won’t have the software ready for the first shipments of the iPhone 7 Plus which means that opening up the camera to its developers to build game-changing apps that understand the 3D world won’t happen until much later.
If HTC had announced a phone with two cameras, it would have demonstrated much more than a 2X optical zoom.
The iPhone 7 is ip67 water and dustproof – it’s been done
The Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7Edge and the Sony Xperia Z5 all meet the higher ip68 specification protecting them longer and at deeper depths than the iPhone 7 rated at ip67.
Eliminating the 3.5mm headphone jack has been done, and done better with USB-C
Eliminating the headphone jack has been done before. The Moto Z eliminated the headphone jack, but for a real reason. Moto wanted to make the thinnest phone possible so that combined with a Moto Mod, such as the Moto Insta-Share Projector, or the Off-Grid Powerpack, it would feel as thin and natural as possible.
The Moto Z’s 0.20-inch thickness precluded a headphone jack, so Moto used the industry-standard USB-C connector to replace the headphone jack.
Last year’s iPhone 6s is 0.01-inch thinner than the iPhone 7 and 0.2-inches thinner than the iPhone 7 Plus, but it still has a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. There isn’t a good reason that Apple is forcing iPhone fans to swap out their headsets.
Android’s USB-C is a standard that any consumer products company can use to interface a peripheral to an Android phone. Apple, of course, chose its proprietary Lightning connector over USB-C for an inexplicable reason, too.
Been there done that – Bluetooth earbuds
A bunch of companies have built Bluetooth earbuds including Samsung’s IconX earbuds. The recharging carrying case also has been done. Take a look at eBay and Amazon’s marketplaces where a bunch of Bluetooth earbuds and charging cases can be found at prices ranging from $30 to $200.
What’s so special about Apple’s new earbuds then? Like the original iPod wired earbuds, they make a statement that you might have the latest iPhone 7 in your pocket.
Apple is in a tough spot unless it redefines how people use their iPhones with a new category of apps such as AR and VR. Apple is hooked on fat margins paid by the fashion conscious. New iPhones that are only a tiny increment better won’t maintain these margins or halt the decline of iPhone sales. Apple could be the next Nokia.