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Not Even Apple Escapes the “S”

Posted on August 3rd, 2016 by in New Materials & Applications

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By Tellegee (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

As the countdown edges closer to September, will Apple launch an updated iPhone or will they bank on the iconic device’s 10th anniversary to rekindle fanboy flames?


This is the time of the year when a nagging itch comes over Apple aficionados and technology industry watchers. September has become the month when Apple releases new versions of their iPhone to help drive revenue in Q1 of the coming year. A strategy that has paid off since the introduction of the iPhone 5.

So it struck me as curious that the folks over at USA Today Talking Tech were exploring Has the Apple iPhone peaked and debating whether Apple would continue with the strategy or whether it would be better to invest an additional year of development to wow their loyal customers. Originally launched in June of 2007, next year marks the 10th anniversary of the iPhone so would create opportune timing for something noteworthy.

While some of the concerns had to do with the economics of acquiring a new phone, the conversation about compelling features was more intriguing to me as an engineer. Is Apple facing a market penetration issue because they’ve saturated the market that can afford their product? The recent addition of the SE might support that conclusion. Or is it more that there aren’t any new product features compelling enough to drive current customers to upgrade? Both of these are scenarios faced by any product company as their products mature along the “S-curve”.

Is unbreakable glass or 24 hour battery life the only features that would compel upgrade fever? The Google ATAP team appears to be betting on modularization and personalization as the next revolution in smartphone design. Have a look at Project ARA:

Seems to me there are many cool things underway for smartphones and consumer electronics. Additionally, Google’s partnering approach for the modules should help shorten time to market.

There is always an opportunity cost ascribed by every consumer as they consider how to spend their hard earned dollars. As the price goes up, that hurdle is higher, so Apple is right to consider whether the taking another year to “get it right” is the best strategy. Unfortunately for them though, Google – and their partners – don’t appear to be waiting.

What are you waiting for before purchasing or upgrading your smartphone? Is your decision driven by features, cost, or something else? Tell us about your quest for unconventional knowledge and what it could mean for the future of your products or companies. Share your thoughts in the comments section below and don’t forget to follow us on your favorite social media channel.


All opinions shared in this post are the author’s own.

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