iPhone Sales Slip Due to More Causes Than Tarnished Coolness Factor

NEWS ANALYSIS: Some young iPhone buyers are saying that other phones have a higher coolness factor, and other users find new smartphones meet their needs more closely, prompting a slowdown in iPhone sales.

The iPhone is no longer cool. Moms, dads and even grandparents are using Apple's flagship product. Worst of all, teachers are using iPhones. To people in their late teens and early 20s who are the drivers of much of technology adoption, this is an anathema.

According to a story in Forbes, Tina Wells, CEO of the Buzz Marketing Group, is saying that "Apple is done." Teens cite the fact that their parents and teachers are using iPhones, and they complain about Apple's failure to innovate in the iPhone 5 as reasoning for the decline of coolness. What is cool? Apparently the Samsung Galaxy S III and the Microsoft Surface tablet.

The lack of coolness in the eyes of young people may be one factor in a slowing of the iPhone's rate of growth. Other factors may include aggressive marketing on the part of Samsung and Microsoft along with several missteps on the part of Apple.

Some even suggest that Apple CEO Tim Cook has committed the unforgivable sin of not being Steve Jobs. The reality, of course, is that several factors, no single one of which by itself would cause an insurmountable problem, are taking the shine off the iPhone 5.

  • Apple has failed to keep up with what the market wants. Phone screens are getting larger for a reason, and it's not just to watch movies. Apple's iPhone 5 includes a 4-inch screen. It's competing with the Samsung Galaxy S III, which has a 4.8-inch screen, and the Nokia Lumia 920 which has a 4.5-inch screen. While those fractions of an inch may not seem like much, they vastly enhance usability, as I found out when I bought an iPhone.
  • Apple has failed to embrace the latest in mobile technology in some areas. Remember those Samsung television commercials showing lines of people waiting at the Apple store? You know the ones where two young men touched their Galaxy S III phones to share playlists and contacts? Apple didn't incorporate near-field communication (NFC) into the iPhone. Even BlackBerry has NFC at this point.
  • The iPhone still doesn't have support for things that users want, like SD cards or a USB connection (without having to buy expensive accessories), which buyers are finding hard to understand when every other phone on the planet seems to have them.
  • Meanwhile, Apple has been failing to make progress in other areas, like updating the Mac Pro, Apple TV and keeping the iPod relevant.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...