All eyes on Apple in September

All eyes will be on Apple in early September as they introduce their new iPhone 7 series. It’s expected they will introduce the product at an event in the first week and have them available for purchase in the last week of the month.

Why is there so much interest? Because Apple is one of the largest and most successful technology companies in the world, and they have a history of leading the world with some of the most innovative products. But Apple has also become fascinating to watch because many observers think they’ve slowed down the pace of their innovation in recent years as Tim Cook replaced Steve Jobs. They think the current leadership is missing what made Apple so great. The financial and press worlds are looking for signs to either see a renewed pace of innovation or confirm some of the pessimism that inevitably follows Apple.

Considering the the iPhone accounts for about 80% of the company’s revenue, what the iPhone 7 turns out to be could be very telling. And the signs of this new product are not very compelling.

My own perspective is that Apple has slowed down in its innovation and we will see that in these new iPhones. This will be the third year in which the iPhones are all much the same shape, size and with similar specs.

Yes, we may see some minor improvements in areas that are already good enough. Expect to see an improved camera that might even provide a telephoto option built in. Expect to see a slightly faster processor and perhaps more memory.

But all of this is incremental and not very exciting. Apple has been so cautious in recent years that they have fallen behind their nemesis, Samsung.

We do know that the headphone jack is gone, because removing a feature to force users to use their own proprietary connector has been well documented. But that’s hardly innovative; it’s more arrogance.

Expect to see the initial hype in which Apple makes a big deal of small things. But let that pass and don’t be fooled. Wait for the comprehensive reviews to see just how much better the phones are. What you see will disappoint.

What adds to Apple’s pressure even more, it that Samsung has done much better in advancing their Android phones. New models have much longer battery life, better displays, some even with curved edges, and are water resistant. My 11-year old grandson who has an iPhone 5c has told me many of his friends are moving from iPhones to the Samsung Galaxy S7 because its much cooler and waterproof.

The new Samsung Note7, which I will review soon, looks like the S7, but has a built in stylus and software to take notes, a long battery life, and an amazing display. It has a large screen in a smaller form because the frame around the display is gone, unlike the older technology displays Apple keeps using.

I’ve been a big fan of Apple products and currently use two of their computers as well as an Apple iPhone 6. In spite of its thin form factor (or because of it), the 6’s battery life is much too short and needs to be recharged in the afternoon to get through a day of heavy use. And its display is the same as it was over four years ago. Yet Apple insists that the thinness is more important. I call them thinness zealots that sacrifice usability for something that’s less important. Samsung manages to build a phone with the same thinness, yet has a battery that has 50% more capacity.

As a company becomes complacent, it rests on it laurels. It believes its own hype and pays less attention to criticism. With great success comes a more cautious management, and arrogance.

This is what I see happening at Apple.

Apple is still an amazing company, unlike most any other in the world. Few companies make the profits that they do on hardware. No company provides the customer support, the after sales service, and the caring for their customers. My point is just that they are becoming another kind of company from what they once were. And we will see that with the iPhone 7.



by Phil Baker