Apple just reported its first fall in iPhone sales since the device launched 13 years ago. Some in the media have pointed to the smartphone market, suggesting that it has reached saturation point, as the cause, but for me the problem is more of Apple’s making. The truth is that Apple needs an iPhone killer.
Since the launch of the iPhone 4 in 2010 the device has remained essentially the same. Yes, I know it’s got thinner and wider. The screen size has grown and the processing power has become more powerful. Oh, and there’s now a finger-print scanner. But that’s not innovation – it’s incremental product development.
When the iPhone launched it was revolutionary. The current handsets are, at best, on par with devices created by Samsung, LG and Google’s Nexus partners. In previous versions Apple has been able to persuade devotees to upgrade regularly with clever marketing and features and functions they can’t get on pervious iterations of the iPhone. But, as the upgrades become harder to tell apart from their predecessors people have been less compelled to purchase the latest release.
It’s a problem that has also seen iPad sales fall in recent years as customers have seen little reason to upgrade from earlier devices because of a little bump in screen resolution or processor speed; a few millimetres trimmed off of the thickness but nothing revolutionary.
Not a slow death
If Apple is to turn around the trend it needs an iPhone killer.
I don’t mean a thinner version of the latest device with a sharper screen resolution; or a larger handset without the traditional home button. I’m talking about a bone fide iPhone killer. Something as revolutionary as the original handset was back in 2007. Something that will WOW customers that bought in to the ecosystem because of its ability to deliver industry-changing innovation.
Innovation is at the core of Apple’s relationship with its customers and without it the company runs the risk of damaging that relationship. It risks a new suitor appearing on the seen with shinier, brighter toys that tempt customers to start a new relationship.
Delivering an iPhone killer is the only way the company will reverse its fortunes.
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