Are we moving away from the Apple iPhone?

by Sam Wainwright

Apple. One of the largest, most successful and impressive technology companies in the world. Also known as the ‘Apple Revolution’. With the massive impact it’s had, things can only go down from here, right?

There’s been a lot of talk lately about Apple taking a downturn after it’s high of 20-odd years and how people are moving further away from the brand and its products. But is this really true? Does this mean that people are buying less or all-out hating the products? And why would they be moving away if the products are always evolving?

Are people really moving away?

In 2016, Apple reported its first decline in annual sales and profit in 15 years, nonetheless, last year Apple also recorded its highest ever profits, despite a fall in iPhone sales. So what is the state of the mega-brand’s financials and how is this reflecting what people really think of it?

The term ‘moving away’ could be easily misunderstood. It’s a much more complex matter than people simply purchasing less Apple products because they have developed a sudden dislike for the brand. From multiple reports and statistics, it could be argued that it’s not Apple as a whole which has lost its following, but instead it’s the iPhone which has taken a considerable decline in demand and buyers’ attentions have diverted to other Apple products. The best selling Apple products of 2018 were in fact the Airpods, the Macbook Air and the Apple Watch.

Even though it’s the brand’s most iconic and important product, there have been a lot of frustrations with the iPhone over the years including it’s unreliable battery life, disappointing storage capacity and file sharing to devices outside of Apple. These ongoing annoyances didn’t seem to dramatically effect sales last year, with it being predicted that in the second quarter of 2018, Apple sold 52.2 million iPhones with the average price for a device being $728. That’s an estimated 38 billion dollars in sales.

If it’s not becoming less popular, then why are less being sold?

Another reason for the decline in sales could be the life span of the iPhone compared to its competition. The longer an phone lasts, the longer somebody can wait to purchase a new one.

According to Apple, the average iPhone lifespan is just over 4 years, while the Consumer Electronics Association states that the average lifespan of a smartphone handset is approximately 4.7 years.

Even though Apple loses out in the statistics, repairability is also something which needs to be considered when figuring out why people are purchasing less iPhones. The whole phone doesn’t usually die at once. It’s more often that different parts of the handset (the hardware, battery and peripherals) which lose working ability at different times and therefore, it needs to be repaired or just discarded for a new one.

The cost of the handset becomes extremely relevant at this point. The more expensive the phone, the more likely somebody is going to get the device repaired, instead of purchasing a new one. With the latest generation of iPhone – the XS – costing approximately £1,250 each and the two before that costing £750 (iPhone XR) and £950 (iPhone X), it seems like the most sensible decision to invest in getting it repaired, especially when only a small aspect of the phone needs to be fixed.

The Future of Apple

So, what’s the future of this mega brand and technology leader?

After the lull of the latest iPhone XR having to be discounted in price because not enough were sold after it launched, what is the future of this mega brand and technology leader?

There have been many theories about what Apple will look like in a year, five or 20 years time. Here are some of the most pragmatic predictions:

  • Products will evolve to become more wearable

The Apple Watch and Airpods dominated the sales of last year and this isn’t predicted to be a temporary trend. Ambience computing will become a more common aspect of future products created by Apple.

  • The shift from phones to glasses

Tying in with Apple products expected to become more wearable overtime, it’s been estimated that one day, most of us would have made the move from a handset to a wearable phone in the form of glasses.

  • Apple’s “Services” business

As one of the fastest growing areas of what Apple has to offer, Services is estimated to continue to increase in popularity. Apple Services includes Apple Music and its App Store.

 

Apple has never been very interested in invention, instead it’s focused on reinvention and evolution. The company lives by its model of phasing out successful products and transitioning people to the next (and often more expensive) model…which isn’t significantly different from the previous one, but offers something more elevated. However effective this business model has been for Apple, it also allows other technology brands to slot new, similar products into the market which Apple has decided to leave behind.

The idea that the Apple iPhone is becoming less popular is a complex issue and a lot of elements need to be considered before declaring the brand old-school. Whichever direction Apple is taking its iconic handset, it will always survive one form or another – whether that’s in our hands, around our wrists or on our faces.