Here it comes and it’s right on schedule. Every year in late spring Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) kicks off in California.
That’s when Apple’s nerdier customers gather with Apple engineers to learn more about the latest versions of OS X, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS, as well as get the skinny on new products and development techniques. And every year about this time Apple’s sales begin to slow down. It’s called the Big Pause. WWDC isn’t just about developers.
The Need To Know
Way back in the day we Apple customers would learn about the latest by grabbing the most recent issue of Macworld or MacUser or check various trade rags for news. These days everything is instant. Millions of Apple’s faithful will be able to view the streaming keynote presentation and State of the Apple Union to see what goodies are coming to OS X and iOS, and perhaps see some new hardware.
That means many tens of millions of customers know that something new is coming and when that knowledge is public, whatever is available now is no longer new. That’s the Big Pause that WWDC puts on the market as a whole. It isn’t just iPhone sales that slowdown this time of year. WWDC has an impact on Apple’s competitors as switchers pause their purchases to find out what’s new from Apple.
Cycles For Fun
Nearly every business has cycles and technology is no different. New models arrive every year; some with little more than cosmetic changes, others with everything new under the hood, and others upgraded with thinner, faster, lighter requirements. Seasons also affect technology purchases. Apple’s largest sales quarter is Q4 of the calendar year; the so-called holiday quarter when shopping for gadgets reaches a feverish pace and where Apple sets records year after year.
Two years ago at this time Apple did not have a large screen iPhone so demand among the company’s more than half-billion customer base was high. That demand has been sated somewhat by the success of the original iPhone 6 line, extended a bit by iPhone 6s and iPhone SE, so all eyes are looking to Apple’s WWDC event in mid-June for new products and updates to catapult the company’s fortunes for the rest of this year into early next year.
WWDC is Apple’s Big Pause button, a time prior to and afterwards where typical customer sales trends change; usually downward, as customers wait for information about the upcoming latest and greatest and then weigh whether to jump in on yesterday’s technology or wait until new products are released in late summer or early autumn.
You can see the effects the Big Pause has on Apple’s own retail store. It’s only personal experience and anecdotal information, but the Apple Store is packed with customers in December, but finding an available employee is much easier in mid-summer during the pause.
Question Yourself, Self
Here are a few questions to ask yourself once you know that Apple will launch new versions of OS X, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS, and is likely to present news on products which haven’t had much upgrade love recently. Would you buy a MacBook or a MacBook Pro now instead of waiting? The answer is obvious MacBooks were just upgraded so now is good, but the MacBook Pro hasn’t had much upgrade love in recent years and is due for an overhaul.
Will you wait for the next iPhone SE model? Or, rush down for the iPhone 6s Plus while knowing that iPhone 7 is around the corner and likely to have improved everything for the same price tag? Again, the iPhone SE won’t see an upgrade soon because that model was just released, but everyone knows iPhone 7 is on the way and will arrive in a few months.
Fortunately, there is no Big Pause for information. In the run up to WWDC the rumor mills and hype factories begin working overtime. Afterwards, Apple’s one billion faithful will need time to digest all the newness, then prepare to make decisions as products are rolled out the rest of the year.
The Big Pause is here now. But it won’t last.