iPhone Demand Could Start to Wane in 2013: 10 Signs of Trouble

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2013-01-23 Print this article Print

5. China is a going concern

Apple has a major marketing issue in China. The company’s iPhone, while popular in some circles, is not nearly as popular as Apple would like. The big issue is that the iPhone is not available on China Mobile—a carrier with over 700 million subscribers. Another issue? The iPhone costs several hundred dollars more in China than it does in the U.S. The device is so expensive, in fact, that Apple has started offering monthly payment plans on it. In a country that still has a huge number of people living under the poverty line, that’s a problem.

6. The hype machine is waning

When Steve Jobs was running Apple, the hype machine at the company couldn’t have been running any better. Nowadays, though, the hype has subsided a bit. Tim Cook is not nearly as charismatic as his predecessor and the company has lost some of its dazzling star power. Also consumers are starting to realize that Apple is no longer the only company that can deliver exciting products. It also doesn’t help that Apple’s latest mobile updates have been somewhat boring.

7. It’ll likely be a nominal upgrade this year

Looking at Apple’s history, the company has launched a major update to the iPhone every other year. Assuming the company follows that plan again this year, it’s likely that the iPhone 5S will only be a nominal upgrade over the iPhone 5. For a company trying to boost demand, that’s a problem.

8. Samsung’s challenge

Much of this discussion on the iPhone has touched on one of Apple’s biggest issues in the mobile space: Samsung. That company has not only become Apple’s chief nemesis in patent court, it has also become the only mobile device maker that consistently delivers products that are as good as or better than Apple’s. Samsung’s Galaxy S4 is expected to be unveiled in the next few months and that device could prove far better than the iPhone 5. If so, Apple will have a tough time keeping pace.

9. Google is a huge threat

Let’s also not forget that Google is a major threat to Apple. For years, Google has been improving Android, and now, the operating system might just be better than iOS. In addition, Google is investing heavily in hardware with vendor partners. Look for Google to make a huge anti-iPhone push this year.

10. The ‘value’ question

All of these points bring us to one, final issue: can Apple truly win the “value” argument? Since 2007, the iPhone has been widely regarded as the best value for the average consumer looking for high-end features, at a reasonable price. But now, that’s not necessarily true. The iPhone’s price is on the higher end of the smartphone price range and given its features can’t quite match several competitors, it’s not quite clear how much value customers will find in the handset this year. Believe it or not, the iPhone might just lose the value argument in 2013.

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