There are a few tech columnists who spend a great deal of time correcting misinformation about Apple. But it’s easy to feel the effort is wasted, because the serial misinformers continue to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt. A good reason for this is that mentioning anything about Apple, iPhone, iPad, Macs and even Apple Watch is certain hit bait. The post will get more hits even if the contents are utterly bogus, or have very little connection to what’s in the headline.
Even when the story seems reasonable, something might be tossed in that assumes facts not in evidence.
So, among the rumors about the next iPhone, is the claim that Apple intends to use a stronger aluminum alloy to reduce the alleged “bendgate” effect. Now having a tougher case is certainly a good thing, but the story assumes that there was actually a scandal involving the alleged susceptibility of an iPhone 6, and particularly the iPhone 6 Plus, to bend in one’s pocket.
As far as Apple is concerned, there is no such problem, and the number of complaints were said to be very low when the problem was first described and displayed in someone’s YouTube video. Tests from Consumer Reports magazine indicated that the iPhone 6 Plus was perfectly solid under abuse, and SquareTrade, a company that sells extended warranties for a variety of products, did their own tests. The iPhone passed with flying colors.
It doesn’t seem there were loads of complaints after the initial video was posted — and it’s hard to know if that phenomenon was deliberately manipulated through extra abuse performed off-camera — so it’s not as if a problem really exists. So why assume that it does?
But I’d be curious to see how this all plays out when the next iPhone is introduced, and how big a deal Apple might make of this alleged stronger casing.
There’s also the assumption by some that the Apple Watch has been an abject failure. Even if the low-end figures were accurate, somewhere above two million units were sold in the first nine weeks, mostly a time when there was a severe backorder situation, that’s pretty good. No other company has come close, and Apple has clearly sucked the air out of the room.
All we have to go by, other than the increase in sales in the “Other” category in Apple’s financials, and guessing the figures for other products in that category, is the claim that Apple sold more Apple Watches during that initial period than the original iPhone and the original iPad during comparable periods. That doesn’t mean the Apple Watch is destined to be more successful than the iPhone, at least over the next few years. But it has to count for something.
Sure, Apple should have been more forthcoming about the numbers. Yes, they did make the decision last year not to reveal them, but it’s not as if the competition doesn’t have a pretty good idea anyway. The lack of those figures breeds skepticism, the feeling that Apple Watch isn’t doing as well as Apple expected. It doesn’t matter if key executives praise sales to the skies. Show us, don’t tell us!
The skeptics have an argument here, even if it’s very speculative.
This fall, after release of WatchOS 2, which allows for native apps and other new features, we’ll get a better picture of the product’s potential. Still, Apple didn’t create an entire ecosystem for a product that will vanish from the store shelves in a few months if it doesn’t take off right away. This is clearly a multiyear project, and it’s not at all certain what the potential for a smartwatch might be.
Aside from sales, the critics are also attacking Apple by suggesting the price is too high. Cheaper smartwatches will be cited as potential competitors. Sometimes cheaper wearables will be included too, even though they aren’t even watches.
A real competitor would be something that more or less is intended to match up with the Apple Watch in terms of basic features. Consider, for example, an iPhone 6 and a Samsung Galaxy S6. They play in the same space, and thus comparisons are valid. A cheap Pebble smartwatch may have useful features, and it’s certainly affordable, but that company isn’t exactly playing in the same space as Apple, which prides itself on offering the Apple Watch as a luxury timepiece.
Yet another argument against Apple is that the next iPhone refresh won’t be terribly compelling since, as Apple does every other year, the same basic form factor will be retained. Apple doesn’t play the same game as Samsung, which has made Galaxy smartphone refreshes look a little different year-to-year even if it’s slight. All right, the S6 refresh was more significant, bringing the product closer in looks to the iPhone, although that move doesn’t seem to have helped flagging sales.
That’s just a part of what’s going on with Apple critics and fear-mongers, but it’s not that they will ever let facts get in the way.