Apple’s iPhone 7 brought with it the usual commentary and criticism that one would expect from an iPhone launch, but what was different this time? The world’s most visible smartphone certainly made some waves with improved camera quality and the controversial removal of its headphone jack. Described by Apple as the ‘best iPhone they’ve ever made’ – a description we’d wager isn’t exclusive to the 7 – we might ask whether its appeal will endure.
Previous launches have drawn vast crowds. At its flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York, nearly two thousand people queued to get their hands on the iPhone 6 when it launched in 2014. The same store recorded a more modest tally of four hundred people for the iPhone 7 launch. Does this tell us anything about the popularity of the iPhone? According to analysts at Deutsche Bank, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Apple to take consumers by surprise. Perhaps people are less willing to shell out for a new iPhone without the incentive of original and exciting features.
Nowadays the iPhone isn’t the only option. The rise of Samsung, Google, and Windows phones means consumers have choices that simply did not exist when the first iPhone was released in 2007. At that time Apple’s main competitor was Blackberry, which had a rather different product on offer, but now the market is saturated with smartphones that are arguably more affordable and obtainable. According to some critics, the iPhone 7 makes no significant improvements to battery life, screen resolution or even the camera. In the absence of substantial improvements, consumers get bored and start to drift.
Business as usual
On the other hand, there is evidence that the iPhone 7 is doing just fine. Last September it was the best-selling smartphone in the US, taking 17.1% market share. Analysts from AppleInsider predict that the world’s most celebrated tech company will retain medium to high levels of growth riding on the success of iPhone 7 as well as the handset redesign anticipated this year.
Still, last year’s launch may be telling. It seems that while the iPhone retains its position of strength, the tides are shifting. With the growth of rival smartphones and an arguably unimaginative new iPhone in the series – are we jaded? – Apple may have to pull something more spectacular out of the bag to keep consumers hooked the way they have been in the past.