The original iPhone was priced at $599 in 2007. A few months later the price dropped by $100, but in the decade since the average selling price has remained in the mid-$600 range. iPhone SE is the entry-level model at $399 while iPhone 7 Plus with 256GB of storage is priced at $969, so Apple is flirting with a $1,000 iPhone price tag with new models due to arrive within two months.
So, why does one technology rag writer think Apple is banking on gimmicks and old technology to sell the next iPhone?
That’s what Adrian Kingsley-Hughes said and he did so because such a headline is better at grabbing eyeballs and stirring up a little controversy which helps readership.
But can AR, face unlocking, wireless charging, and an OLED display really going to get people to part with more than $1,000 for an iPhone?
Well, let’s see. An iPhone with modest augmented reality, no wireless charging, and an LCD display that is indistinguishable from perfect and priced at $969 sold well over the past year.
Remember, the headline said old technology. So, what’s coming in the next iPhone that is old? Since only Apple knows the feature list and price tag, everything we read about the next iPhone models, specifically the so-called iPhone 8 or iPhone Pro at the top of the line is speculation, but let’s roll with a few basics.
- A new, bezel-free styling
- A 5.8-inch OLED display
- Wireless charging
- Facial recognition for unlocking (and possibly the beginning of the end for Touch ID)
- AR (augmented reality) support (through iOS 11 and an AR-ready camera system)
Why is the new styling on top of the list?
It’s deliberate. I did it because as for some, having an iPhone that other’s don’t have (and likely won’t be able to afford) will be reason enough to put down over a thousand dollars for a smartphone.
Yet, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus have the same slab design and people were willing to plunk down $969 for the top end model.
Let’s take a little detour down the driveway of alternative facts and unreasonable logic, just to prove a point in a link bait headline.
We’re left with either existing technology that Android users already have access to, and a largely untested technology that may or may not end up being useful to drive sales.
The old technology in the new iPhones is what Android users already have access to? Then why don’t those Android phones with newer technology sell as well as iPhones? OED displays, facial recognition, wireless charging, and edge-to-edge micro-bezel displays are available on a few Android smartphones, but the vast majority don’t even have features or quality equivalent to the oldest iPhones Apple sells.
Bottom line, an OLED display is an example of Apple playing catch-up. Not leading the way.
Historically, Apple leads the way on technology that matters, and plays catch up on technology that does not matter. The LCD vs. OLED display is a perfect example. Remember, iPhone 7’s display was rated as indistinguishable from perfect so moving to an OLED display is not as big a deal for customers as it is for technology writers.
Could Apple be leading the way with AR (augmented reality)?
The problem facing Apple with AR is that we know that iOS 11 has support for it with ARKit, and that this will allow developers to bring AR to existing iPhones and iPads… This means that whatever the AR angle for the iPhone 8, it’s at best going to be features that “do AR better,” and not “bring AR to the masses” (because a $1,000+ smartphone isn’t going to be bringing anything to the masses).
Maybe because the masses will not buy iPhone 8. Each year Apple’s new iPhones make up a significant percentage of all iPhones sold, but Apple also sells last year’s models and iPhone SE, and tens of millions of iPads each year, so it seems to me that the new technology Apple is banking on is AR software, not hardware.
I still think that this handset will end up being little more than a limited-edition, high-priced, low-volume shiny bauble dangled in front of people with more money than sense.
And, somehow this is bad for Apple?
Bogus headlines and unreasonable logic aside, here’s how iPhone product marketing at Apple really works.
Each new iPhone has features not found in last year’s models. But this year’s new iPhone will become last year’s model next year. So, those cleverly designed and obviously slow-walked features Apple installs into new iPhones find their way into lower priced models year after year.
Does anyone think every Samsung phone has the same features as the most expensive Samsung Galaxy Note? Of course not. That’s not how product marketing works.
What Kingsley-Hughes failed to mention is how Apple’s iOS 10.x runs on nearly 90-percent of all iPhones and iPads, and this time next year, iOS 11.x– with AR and many other new features– will being running on about 90-percent of all iPhones and iPads. Why is it that nearly all of Apple’s customers have access to new software every year while barely 10-percent of Android smartphone customers get the latest version?
The real action is going to be in relation to the iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus. These are going to be the handsets (along with the iPhone SE, or a successor) that really drive sales, and it’s these handsets that we really need to be keeping an eye on.
That’s the summary argument and notice how it wasn’t even mentioned until the bottom of the article and not hinted at all in the headline? Apple will sell more iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus models than iPhone 8 models.