When people discuss Apple, most of the time there are two reactions about their product line - hatred or admiration. As it's this time of the year when Apple releases their new generation of devices, there is more debate on them: Are Apple devices still worth buying and has branding replaced innovation?
Apple is the biggest tech company in the world, but over the last couple of years, they have noticeably reduced the amount of innovation injected in their products. Whether it's a lack of investment in R&D or other external factors, this year is not going to be their biggest for sales.
Even though it's too early to talk about how the new product line will perform in the market, Statista has predicted that the best outcome for Apple by the end of this year can be $205 million - $26.5 million less than in 2015. Apple revenue fell for the first time in a decade earlier this year. Such a nosedive can be due to economic uncertainties or market saturation, but also the fact that Apple may be losing its charm among customers. Following the decline, everyone expected the next iPhone to be nothing but revolutionary to reboot the sales and now when it's been released - is it a game changer?
Jack is gone
Rumors have been confirmed and the new iPhone generation is coming without an audio jack, loved by many but described by Apple as an old-fashioned, space consuming feature. It's also not an innovation in the smartphone world, Motorola has already removed the jack in their MotoZ. From the customers' perspective, it's not the friendliest solution because if people want to use their own headphones they would need to either buy a Lightning adaptor ($9), wireless AirPods ($159) or to use conventional EarPods that come with the iPhone plug. It's a smart move to encourage people to use original Apple accessories, but means that customers would need to pay even more.
Wireless headphones have been discussed way before the new iPhone was announced. The idea is relatively new, but again, Apple was not the first to introduce wireless headphones - they are already widely available. Apple's AirPods have a $159 price tag which is above the market price for similar products. The design remains the same as it was with EarPods, just without a cable. The wearable is claimed to have advanced Bluetooth and synchronization features. Are they worth buying? Social media is already full of jokes on the subject, where one of the responses was 'so pumped...can't wait to lose them,' and losing $159 headphones will be, in most cases, painful for the bank account.
The iPhone 7 is the first phone from Apple that is waterproof - innovation for Apple, but other brands have already been exploiting the feature. It is, however useful, as the smartphone can be fully soaked in water to up to 30 minutes without damage. The home button has been also improved to prevent failures in exploitation. The LED display is now 25% brighter, which is a questionable advantage, as many expected Apple to catch up with rivals who already offer 4K resolution displays and greater experiences with OLEDs.
When Steve Jobs passed away, Apple continued growing but the company became more focused on its brand rather than product innovation. Presentations of new devices don't hesitate to use an innovative voice, but at the same time, new products deliberately ignore customer needs, such as stronger display glass, more durable charging cables, fixing battery issues and other problems. So will people continue buying Apple devices?
Yes, they will. From the very beginning when the first iPod advert came to light, Apple secured a reputation of providing a lifestyle solution rather than innovation. The iPod ad featured a man holding an iPod in his hand, having a good time listening to the music. That's where Apple stayed loyal to its principles - devices are still strong at providing everything a customer needs to be up-to-date with trends. The company builds the product line in a way that devices wouldn't be replaced with other brands, not because of the technical features, but customers simply wouldn't want to. Apple cannot be blamed for enjoying such a commercial success, as long as there is a high demand for their products. The biggest threat, however, is losing this charm, by focusing on premium features rather than lifestyle.
The company said it won't disclose sales figures for iPhone 7's first week, explaining that: 'These initial sales will be governed by supply, not demand, and we have decided that it is no longer a representative metric for our investors and customers.' Such an attitude caused mixed reactions suggesting that Apple is losing confidence and popularity. On the next day after the big presentation, Apple shares in the stock market fell by 2.67%- an indicator that the company may need to rethink its future product strategy.