Which of these is worse: People who tell you what to do when you didn’t ask? Or, people who don’t understand business or humanity who tell Apple what to do when Apple didn’t ask? Here’s a good example.
Christina Bonnington, writing for Slate, says, “It’s Time for Apple to Stop Releasing New iPhones Every Year.” Christina’s middle name is Buzzkill. Yeah, I know. Some days are just more exciting than others. Some days there just isn’t anything worthy to write about. Been there. Done that. Doing that. But let’s think about Christina’s title and the issue for a moment.
Forget the fact that Ms.Bonnington’s entire premise is based upon a now completely disproven screed from Bloomberg writers with too much time on their hands who may also have liberal pharmaceutical access in their health plans. iPhone X is a success, just like each of the new iPhones Apple introduced since the beginning of time (now measured, somewhat like B.C. and A.D. but AiP. After iPhone. BiP. Before iPhone.
Apple and its competitors are beholden to an annual smartphone update cycle (and in the case of Apple, a biannual major-upgrade cycle). And they stick to it, even if the result is subpar handsets. They shouldn’t.
Alrighty now. Here we go. Biannual? Oh, that’s the totally disproved tick tock of iPhone 5 to 5s, and iPhone 6 to 6s, and iPhone 7… to… uh, um. 8? And X? How does that work again. Samsung seems beholden to a similar smartphone update cycle but what does “subpar handsets” even mean? They get better every year. Maybe the writer who knows little about business or humanity meant “subpar advancements” in handsets. And who calls them handsets anymore? Yet, here we are with another iPhone line with everything completely brand new inside; iPhone 8 with a look somewhat similar to last year, iPhone X quite a bit different.
Does that bother anyone? Critics. And wannabe critics. Customers do not appear to be concerned in the least. iPhone circa 2007? Rounded corners and big display. iPhone circa 2018 models? Rounded corners and bigger display. Maybe we just need new iPhones every 10 years or so. Why would anyone need a new iPhone every year? Surprise? Not everyone gets a new iPhone every year. That explains why Apple sells a couple of hundred million iPhones each year, but has about 800-million iPhone customers.
All iPhone customers do not buy a new iPhone every year. It’s math.
There are a couple of good arguments for the regular smartphone update cycle, which other hardware manufacturers such as Google (with its flagship Pixel smartphone) and Samsung (with its Galaxy and Galaxy Note lines) adhere to, as well.
Wait. Let me guess. Money?
First, it’s all about money. The iPhone is Apple’s cash cow.
True that. Astute you are. The Force is strong with this one.
Yeah, Apple makes a boatload of money from iPhone sales. Get over it. Manufacturers make new products every year and that helps to make money for their efforts. Should we start growing fruits and veggies every two years instead of every year?
With a regular annual production cycle, a new phone model gives consumers reason to upgrade even if their old phone is perfectly fine, and those upgrades are an important revenue stream for the company.
Oh, I get it. Marketing. Apple is all about marketing. And customer satisfaction. And products that do not last forever.
Second, with annual updates to our smartphone hardware, it puts the rate of change at a comfortable pace. Many consumers may want a better phone, but not a drastically different-looking phone or experience.
There we go. Marketing 101. Incrementally iterative improvements to products with occasional disrupting improvements and that’s how the world works. It’s been that way since the wheel, although iterative improvements came at a much slower pace.
We’ve reached a point where many of those updates are so incremental that the average human may have trouble seeing the improved processor speed, or wider color gamut, that this year’s phone offers over last year’s.
Sorry. We need to stop and agree to disagree here. That’s how technology works.
In fact, it’s how almost everything works. Televisions, refrigerators, automobiles, clothing, food, people. Now, as to iPhone, math already tells us most customers update once every two to four years, on average. If your view of an iPhone X is rounded corners and a big display, therefore, it isn’t much different than the original iPhone circa 2007, or you’re living under an overpass, or, at best, living under a staircase.
So companies should wait longer to put out a new phone. Rather than simply having a couple of minor processor or camera upgrades inside a redesigned chassis, that phone could offer truly compelling new features—ones that aren’t half-baked or compromised for the sake of the production cycle.
Most of Apple’s more than 1-billion customers are happy no one will pay much attention to your screed on a slow tech news day. I should ignore the “half-baked or compromised” slur because you, Christina, can be forgiven for jumping the rumor gun and then shooting yourself in the foot without facts, but I won’t.
Anything else we should worry about?
Our e-waste problem, even with increased recycling opportunities that have cropped up in recent years, is still pretty bad. From an environmental perspective, lengthening the new phone cycle would be a very good thing.
Gimme a break. Have you seen what people fill their shopping carts with at grocery stores these days? Have you seen how much space the steel, aluminum, plastic, metal, electronics, and batteries in a new car take up? My iPhone is a tiny sliver of recyclable aluminum, glass, steel, and plastic. Tiny by comparison to the trash you and me and everyone else toss into a dumpster. Every. Freaking. Day.
A new iPhone every year is crazy because most smartphone buyers do not buy a new iPhone every year. Complain about Samsung. They make more smartphones than Apple. Oh. Wait. Christina, if you complained about Samsung’s new phones nobody would have read your article and I would not have written about you and your silly ideas.