For over a decade now the September announcement from Apple has reliably set off a media circus. As iPhones, iPods and iPads all became a regular part of our day-to-day lives, these unveiling events were greeted with more and more excitement. The anticipation spread far beyond the tech media, technophiles and Mac aficionados to everyday people who tuned in to find out how Apple would, if not necessarily make their lives better, at least make them cooler. Phone buyers and resellers would line up for hours, or even days, to be among the first to buy Apple’s latest devices.
But as Apple launched the iPhone 7 and a new Apple Watch last month, there was no huge line of eager customers at its flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York City and no media circus to speak of. Sure, cable news channels like CNBC covered the announcements, website after website live blogged the proceedings and every minor upgrade still got tweeted and retweeted as usual. But it’s clear that the luster has worn off these launch events.
Why Apple Could Be Making A Huge Mistake
Part of the problem for Apple is that the old two-year product cycle has inevitably ended. Though there will always be those who must have the latest and the greatest iteration, for many users, their iPhone 6 or 5 (and a few brave souls still soldiering on with 4s still work just fine. Sales of the iPhone have fallen on a year-over-year basis for two straight quarters, as customers hold on to the phones they have.
Apple CEO, Tim Cook unsurprisingly called the iPhone 7 the “best iPhone we ever created,” and analysts who expected just a modest placeholder upgrade from the iPhone 6 were surprised Apple announced some more significant changes. But the new features are not critical, or even all that appealing. Two different kinds of black casings? Nice, but probably not enough reason to dump your current phone. More powerful dual cameras? Cool, maybe, but probably not worth the cost of a whole new phone for most people.
Here are some of the reasons why apple could be making a huge mistake with the release of the iPhone 7:
1. Kill the headphone jack
Apple’s decision to kill the headphone jack on the iPhone 7 is baffling. Apple has switched its “earpods” to connect to the phone via its Lightning connector, the same spot where the power cord goes. It will provide new Lightning earphones and an adapter for traditional headphones with the iPhone 7. So of course Apple is going to blow it all up in favor of making you deal with either expensive Bluetooth headphones or some annoying dongle and it is also introducing “AirPods” — wireless earbuds that, at first glance, appear perfectly designed to get lost within hours of purchase.
2. Make it thinner for no reason
One of the mooted reasons why Apple wants to remove the headphone jack? Because the 7.1mm iPhone 6S just isn’t thin enough. You know, the 7.1mm iPhone 6S you immediately put into a 15mm thick case… At this point I don’t know a single person who wants a thinner iPhone. In fact, most people complain about the camera hump, which likely won’t go away with a thinner phone.
3. Get rid of the mute switch
While everyone’s been focusing on the removal of the headphone jack, not enough has been made of Apple reportedly ditching the mute/vibrate switch. This certainly won’t ruin the iPhone, but plenty of people use it; some iPhone users will be disgusted not seeing the mute switch on the iPhone 7.
5. Not offer quick charging
If the iPhone is going to get thinner, it’s also not going to get much of a bump in battery life. While existing iPhones do okay in this department, we’re quickly warming up to the idea that flagship phones should last almost two full days on a charge—not just one.
But what has really caught our eye is the newer quick-charging phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, S7, HTC One A9, and the Nexus 6P from Huawei. These phones can usually go from nearly dead to 50 percent charged in 30 minutes. Apple has added fast charging on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and it’s a must-have feature for the next iPhone.
6. Major Wireless Carriers No Longer Provide Their “Free” Upgrades
Another huge challenge Apple now faces; The major wireless carriers no longer provide their “free” upgrades every two years that made switching to the newest model a painless and easy decision. Now consumers must pay out of pocket or enter into a lease with their carrier for a product they are not even certain they really need.
For many, the headphones included with the iPhone were always the weakest part of the product. Even so, the impression that Apple is forcing its customers into its closed system will rub many the wrong way, particularly in the tech community, where any sense that they are being “corralled” is met with hostility. Just think back to the peripheral upgrades required by the adapter switch between the iPhone 4 and 5, which rendered existing audio equipment and charging docks useless. Almost every part of the world is still littered with alarm clocks meant to house iPhone 4s.
The iPhone no longer has the same cultural cache it once did as “the cool person’s phone.” And Apple’s decision to lose the traditional headphone jack risks turning off the very music lovers it wants to lure to its Apple Music service.
By trying to force its customers into its ecosystem, it runs the risk of losing them whenever they decide to finally buy a new phone.
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