Is Apple Innovation Slipping as It Upgrades iPhone, Watch?

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2016-09-07 Print this article Print

Ian Fogg, IHS:

"Apple needs the iPhone 7 to be a major success, because it is the main driver of growth for the whole company. Apple has seen iPhone shipments fall year-on-year in 2016, and it needs the iPhone to return to growth. Direct revenues for the iPhone represented 57 percent of total Apple revenue in the second calendar quarter, but the importance of the iPhone for Apple is much greater than direct revenues alone," said Ian Fogg, senior director of IHS' mobile and telecoms group.

"The iPhone drives acquisition for Apple's entire ecosystem, supports up-sell of Apple Watch, Macs and iPads. The more iPhones Apple sells, the larger the addressable audience for accessories such as Apple Watch series 2.

"We [HIS] expect the new iPhone 7 camera design will successfully convince consumers to upgrade their older iPhones, despite the lack of headphone socket. IHS Technology forecasts Apple will ship 209 million iPhone units in 2016."

Audio innovation should be possible without requiring the end of the headphone socket, Fogg said.

"Apple also has a long history of dropping support for legacy technologies to make its current products more compelling, by enabling them to be smaller, faster, or lighter. The decision to drop the 3.5mm headphone socket is the latest example. Apple is not the first to drop the socket: The Moto Z and select models from Chinese manufacturer LeEco have launched without the 3.5mm socket in 2016. These manufacturers have had little adverse reaction, in part, because they sell many fewer smartphones than Apple.

"Unlike previous moves to cease offering floppy disk drives, the iPod dock connector, CD drives, multiple USB ports and many others, the headphone is a riskier move for Apple because of the numerous number of non-computing devices which use the socket. The result is consumers will have to compromise with adaptors for many years to come," Fogg said.

Richard Stiennon, Blancco Technology Group:

"Apple is now catching up to the superior camera functionality of Samsung devices. Increased photo resolution requires more storage capacity. Perhaps another reason why Apple decided to no longer offer 16GB models," said Richard Stiennon, chief strategy officer at Blancco Technology Group, a mobile diagnostics solution provider.

"The Lightning port will act as the device's audio, which means third-party (i.e. Bose) headsets and other accessories no longer work. We are likely to see other smartphone manufacturers follow suit in the coming months."

Jordan Edelson, Appetizer Mobile:

"Apple's recent releases of the iPhone have all been about refinement to offer the best possible product and experience for consumers—both hardware- and software-wise. I would expect moving forward that Apple will take more calculated risks to venture to new areas with the product. Right now, there is limited risk-taking, but that works for the brand because they have maintained their position in the market," said Jordan Edelson, founder and CEO, Appetizer Mobile.

"Overall, Apple's strategy is to make the current line of iPhones to keep the similar shape/size—more evolutionary than revolutionary, as the brand is playing it safe."

Tanguy Leborgne, Plantronics:

On the addition of the wireless AirPods, Tanguy Leborgne, vice president of consumer solutions at Plantronics, said: "It's about time. When a major player like Apple makes a bold move away from legacy, analog technologies, it helps the whole industry grow. Removing the headphone jack will encourage more consumers to cut the cord and drive more innovation as the market expands.

"Plantronics has been working to help Bluetooth headsets go mainstream since our first headset featuring Bluetooth wireless technology in 2001. This is not only good news for us, but for an entire industry that is seeking the best in audio solutions, and we're excited to see where it goes next."


Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features and Analysis at eWEEK. Twitter: @editingwhiz
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