Apple may be a victim of its own, admittedly huge, success. If analysts are right, it seems that consumers are quite happy with older versions of the iPhone and just aren’t that interested in more and more versions coming on line every couple of years.
Apple is currently one of the most successful (in terms of profits) of the planet’s big companies. It rode the wave of popularity that came with the development of the iPhone, which may have saved Apple from possible commercial oblivion only just over ten years ago. But what next for the Big Apple? The signs are that the Apple team either can’t think of what to do next or are keeping any new developments close to their chest.
Have Consumers Developed iPhone Fatigue?
There are signs that consumers have got iPhone fatigue. It’s not that they dislike the multi faceted invention that broke on the world ten years ago, but it may be that they are quite satisfied with what they have already got, rather than continue to buy increasingly expensive new versions of the smart phone. This has been dubbed “mixing down”. In other words, consumers are opting for cheaper versions of the iPhone, even if it is the first iPhone they are buying. The inference is that the recently released iPhone 7 and the planned release of the next in line iPhone8 just aren’t exciting enough to be bothered with.
This is a real problem for Apple. With the iPhone 6S $100 less than the iPhone 7, Apple stands to lose significant profits in the short term. In the long term, they need to come up with something that is going to provide something really new in the gadget world, but there is no sign that’s anywhere on the horizon just yet.
The iPhone’s Success is Hard to Match
The arrival of the iPhone heralded the appearance of something the world had never anticipated. Some say that it was the world’s best consumer product, at least in the last 20 years. That’s debatable, of course, but few would argue that the iPhone hasn’t reshaped the way communication takes place, with so many different features available in one small gadget. It may be just asking too much to expect Apple to come up with something just as novel and exciting.
What was so special about the iPhone was that consumers didn’t know that they would like the convenience and flexibility of the product before it was actually released. As UBS analyst, Steve Milunovich, commented late last year, Apple really needs to come up with an imaginative idea that will be a new technology experience, something that consumers are simply not yet aware of.
According to Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, when asked whether Apple was looking ahead and planning something “really big,” he said that they were “not going to talk about what’s ahead,” but he expressed confidence in the current pipeline.
It’s hard to see what the next big project could be, but to be fair, that could have been said before iPhone too. One potential project seems to have been scuppered. That was the “integrated television set.”
Companies come and go, and it’s no different in the communications industry. Apple has almost died as accompany more than once but has saved itself commercially by coming up with something completely new just in the nick of time. Whether Apple will be able to replace the iPhone with something that consumers don’t even know that they want or gently slide into oblivion will be something that we will all be closely watching.