Let’s Freak Out a Little Over Apple
But not that much (yet).
Someone in Apple should wonder what’ll become of Apple as the smartphone boom ends.
As reported, Apple sold 74.8M iPhones in its first fiscal quarter. Nearly unmoved from the 74.5M iPhones sold in the same quarter last year. With Apple experiencing the slowest year-over-year growth since the iPhone was introduced back in 2007. Apple is projecting to see sales decline compared to the same period last year. And while many companies would kill to have these sorts of numbers, for a company like Apple that has shattered its own records almost constantly, the fact that a slowdown exists begins to break the image of invincibility.
Many have speculated that the Apple we saw in 2015 was in Beta. That maybe its various products it brought to market: the Apple Watch, Apple TV, updated iPhones, iPads, Macs, Car-Play and I think even a smart-home platform(?) were simply rushed. That perhaps they were placeholders for something more final in 2016. I’d like to disagree. When has Apple ever released a “finished” product?
For years we’ve seen Apple release products (seriously try and tell me that the first iPhone was a good phone. I dare you) yearly. With each follow-up a revision and expansion on the ideas and potential of the previous years product. Nothing exactly perfect either, but just enough revision and retooling to make it feel new. That yearly revision fit in nicely with the global smartphone boom of the 2010's- present. Apple could create that culture of a premium product while still working out just how its products would work. Making the consumers its guinea pigs and pocketing the change.
Apple; its hardware and software are almost always in Beta. No matter the year.
So why now would Apple (and the iPhone) be slowing down?
It could be a combination of several influences:
- A slowing global economy. Part of me wants to blame the slowing global economy. Despite the shifting sands of the global economy the West still maintains an insane influence when it comes to purchasing power. Despite a smaller population as compared to the global population at large.
- Market Saturation. The realist in me wants to make a point to mention that when you constantly sell more than 30M phones every fiscal quarter for two years straight you’re eventually going to reach market saturation.
- Reluctance to upgrade. What Apple does get right is making sure its hardware lasts longer than the contracts we are tied to . And for many that might be a compelling reason to hold onto older hardware to get cheaper smartphone plans.
As its various efforts to expand and grow beyond the smartphone become unlikely to offset the losses of a mature smartphone market and as relatively boring iPhone sales become the new normal all signs point that this slowdown will become part of the new normal for Apple.
Of course when you have $203B+ in the bank you really don’t have much to worry about.