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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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iMore Editor-in-Chief Rene Ritchie has written a worthwhile opinion piece arguing that part of Apple's challenge in maintaining its performance in an increasingly competitive smartphone market is the predictability of its "tick-tock" strategy of a major iPhone release every other year and an 'S' refresh on the years in between.

5-inch_iPhone_mockup_lineup-800x450.jpg
Ritchie, whose close sources within Apple led him to report the Lightning connector several months before it was released and correctly predict both the iPad mini launch date and the announcement date of the iPhone 5, says this predictability hurts sales and helps competitors.
[Consumers] began to realize when new iPhones would be released. That led to a slowdown in sales for existing iPhone models just prior to the presumed next release. Apple taught people when to buy, and by extension, when not to buy.

Apple also taught competitors how to counter-program the iPhone. It's probably not a coincidence that HTC announced their next-generation Android phone, the HTC one, back in February, or that Samsung is holding their Galaxy S4 event this March.
Apple's approach of maintaining the same external casing and largely unchanged internal components in its 'S' models limits the innovation that can be offered, making consumers far more likely to look around at competitor products in 'S' years, giving competitors a great opportunity to launch major new models.

Ritchie points to the range of rumors circulating around potential new products from Apple, and says that while all are unlikely to be true, "breaking patterns and challenging expectations is just one way to solve that problem".

Article Link: Apple's 'iPhone 5S Problem' Suggests Need to Be Less Predictable
 

Dr McKay

macrumors 68040
Aug 11, 2010
3,425
48
Kirkland
They can't win, if they break release cycle like they did with the iPad then people on here feel cheated because their latest shiny isn't the latest shiny.
 

rorschach

macrumors 68020
Jul 27, 2003
2,145
839
Isn't this one of the problems that was supposedly going to be solved by ditching Macworld? Part of the problem with the annual Macworld was that people expected Apple to announce groundbreaking new products every year in January. Pulling out was going to mean Apple could take its time and announce things when they were ready.

Now it seems they've fallen right back into the trap. People expect a new iPad in the spring, a new iPhone in June, new iPods in September, etc.

On the other hand, when they don't stick to a regular schedule you get people complaining that "I didn't expect the new iPad until spring! WTF now my iPad x is totally obsolete 3 months early!"

Seems they can't win no matter what.
 

claimed4all

macrumors 6502
Sep 26, 2008
414
0
Same story every year... yet they are the most profitable every year.

They will have the most profitable quarter in the lifetime of the company, yet people will be pissed, the stock will, all because it wasn't enough profit.
 

3N16MA

macrumors 65816
Jul 23, 2009
1,011
177
Space
Samsung seems to have the same cheap looking plastic casing on their flagship Galaxy line every year. Why is the burden on Apple to top their already impressive designs every year for the simple sake of letting people know they have the newest gear.

The one big aspect of the Galaxy line that drives the average consumer to make a purchase is it's screen size. Apple may or may not address that with a larger iPhone in the future.
 

BaldiMac

macrumors 604
Jan 24, 2008
7,412
8,735
Apple's approach of maintaining the same external casing and largely unchanged internal components in its 'S' models limits the innovation that can be offered, making consumers far more likely to look around at competitor products in 'S' years, giving competitors a great opportunity to launch major new models.

I question how the conclusion in bold can be reached based on the 'S' years to date. Sounds good in theory but the 3GS and the 4S both resulted in a dramatic increases in sales.

Increase in sales (and market share) does not equal "consumers far more likely to look around at competitor products."
 

gleepskip

macrumors 6502
Apr 29, 2005
358
567
We've been conditioned to want things to be predictable and consistent from Apple. Look how much uproar there was when Apple abandoned the 30-pin connector.

I think they would get far more criticism for radically altering their product year-to-year than the criticism for not innovating enough.
 

Torrijos

macrumors 6502
Jan 10, 2006
383
21
Funny how we keep hearing the same stories all the time while Apple keeps being the most profitable company in the segments they're involved in.

Also analysts and other supposed researchers keep talking sales and production figures while refusing to acknowledge that they have been led on countless times in the recent past (like MS or Samsung's GTab supposed sell figures that ended being channel sales).

Why is it so hard, for countless tech people, to understand that Apple competes in the market they want to compete in once they have found out the right way to do so?
Sure they're million of phones to be sold in the low margin markets but that would overextend the company without improving its profitability, like their competitors have proven in the last couple of years.
 

larrybeo

macrumors regular
Jul 8, 2008
130
0
Chicago
I won't be buying the 5s, either

The iPhone 5 design is the most pristine example of laziness. It is literally no different than the 4s.. mostly because developers don't have the incentive to utilize the extra processing power on the device due to limits of the OS. I could sell my 32GB 4s and pay roughly $100 for a 5s equivalent - but I have no desire to do that. The 5s isn't going to be worth $100 to me. Apple's stock is half of what it was 6 months ago, and it's because the company is no longer innovative, not that people can predict what they are doing.
 

thekris1234

macrumors member
Jun 10, 2011
36
0
I've owned every iPhone since the 3G. I have always been on pay and go here in the UK so I don't have to pay ridiculous fees to get out of contracts. I'm always on Apple's site early in the morning of the release day ready to purchase as soon as it is live.

I have always followed the same rule with Apple products. If you don't get it the day it is released there is not much point getting it and that's what I've told everyone who asks me about a product.

I think it's quite scary how quickly competitors have advanced over the past few years and now the idea of an S product sounds like something that should be released 6 months after a major launch. I don't think Apple can get away with an S launch this year if they want to win back customers. The argument that they're still way more profitable is irrelevant. They still need to win back the consumers they have lost. The loyalists will always upgrade (as I have done).

But this year I'm really hoping some new features are added. I don't mind the look of the iPhone 5, it looks beautiful, I just hope it gets made out of stronger materials this time.

The same goes for iOS. I don't think it needs a complete overhaul, I just don't want Phil standing up there announcing 5 new major features that are similar to competitors while everyone who aren't loyalists laugh.

That's my thoughts anyway. And I would say I'm a huge Apple fan.
 
Last edited:

Carlanga

macrumors 604
Nov 5, 2009
7,101
1,388
... . largely unchanged internal components in its 'S' models...
Whoever wrote this piece doesn't understand hardware, "largely unchanged internals" sure you keep telling yourself that. Outside in the S models has always been largely unchanged, but the insides have had very large changes in components, speed was the major change on the 3GS and the 4S had as the biggest the antenna fix, besides other things for both S models.
 

larrybeo

macrumors regular
Jul 8, 2008
130
0
Chicago
Funny how we keep hearing the same stories all the time while Apple keeps being the most profitable company in the segments they're involved in.

Also analysts and other supposed researchers keep talking sales and production figures while refusing to acknowledge that they have been led on countless times in the recent past (like MS or Samsung's GTab supposed sell figures that ended being channel sales).

Why is it so hard, for countless tech people, to understand that Apple competes in the market they want to compete in once they have found out the right way to do so?
Sure they're million of phones to be sold in the low margin markets but that would overextend the company without improving its profitability, like their competitors have proven in the last couple of years.

You neglect to mention that Apple's stock is half of what it was six months ago while the rest of the stock market has skyrocketed.
 

Dades

macrumors member
May 24, 2010
82
2
Dublin, Ireland
Apple's stock is half of what it was 6 months ago, and it's because the company is no longer innovative, not that people can predict what they are doing.
Apple's stock level dropped because it simply cannot maintain the momentum. No company can continue to grow profits exponentially. It overpeaked, then dropped back to a realistic level. It'll grow again as they continue to print money.
 

meboy

macrumors 6502
Apr 12, 2012
326
273
Seriously? People like you give iPhone people a bad rap.

The S1, S2 and S3. They all look pretty different to me. Let alone the major changes in hardware/software through those models.

Compared to the 3, 4, and 5 Samsung and Android have moved in leaps and bounds. Well beyond the iPhone and iOS.


Samsung seems to have the same cheap looking plastic casing on their flagship Galaxy line every year. Why is the burden on Apple to top their already impressive designs every year for the simple sake of letting people know they have the newest gear.

The one big aspect of the Galaxy line that drives the average consumer to make a purchase is it's screen size. Apple may or may not address that with a larger iPhone in the future.
 

kas23

macrumors 603
Oct 28, 2007
5,628
288
Whoever wrote this piece doesn't understand hardware, "largely unchanged internals" sure you keep telling yourself that. Outside in the S models has always been largely unchanged, but the insides have had very large changes in components, speed was the major change on the 3GS and the 4S had as the biggest the antenna fix, besides other things for both S models.

Do you think the average iPhone owner knows that though? I don't think so. All of us on this website (which is a tiny sliver of iPhone owners) do, but the average consumer has no idea. For an example, my wife and I jumped from the iPhone 4 to 4S the day it was launched. To this day (we now have iPhone 5's), she still doesn't know why we had to upgrade to the 4S.
 

tekno

macrumors 6502a
Oct 15, 2011
842
4
I question how the conclusion in bold can be reached based on the 'S' years to date. Sounds good in theory but the 3GS and the 4S both resulted in a dramatic increases in sales.

Increase in sales (and market share) does not equal "consumers far more likely to look around at competitor products."

The 3GS and 4S may have sold more than past iPhones, but that's because the smartphone sector is still growing. Apple's market share has in fact been diminishing.
 

meboy

macrumors 6502
Apr 12, 2012
326
273
No.. I'm pretty sure the comment you quoted is more accurate than this.

Apple's stock level dropped because it simply cannot maintain the momentum. No company can continue to grow profits exponentially. It overpeaked, then dropped back to a realistic level. It'll grow again as they continue to print money.
 

kas23

macrumors 603
Oct 28, 2007
5,628
288
Apple's stock level dropped because it simply cannot maintain the momentum. No company can continue to grow profits exponentially. It overpeaked, then dropped back to a realistic level. It'll grow again as they continue to print money.

But people on here expected them to, which is nuts. The $700 price tag was based on exponential growth of a now ubiquitous product. It is no longer experiencing that type of growth, which was inevitable. But people still wonder why the stock plunged. As I have said before, we will see it dip below $400 within the next 6 months. I'll buy at that point.

As for innovation, based on prior Apple sales and the products they are selling, "innovation" is overrated.
 

Carlanga

macrumors 604
Nov 5, 2009
7,101
1,388
Do you think the average iPhone owner knows that though? I don't think so. All of us on this website (which is a tiny sliver of iPhone owners) do, but the average consumer has no idea. For an example, my wife and I jumped from the iPhone 4 to 4S the day it was launched. To this day (we now have iPhone 5's), she still doesn't know why we had to upgrade to the 4S.

Yes I agree, but the article said no major internal changes to make his/her point.
 
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