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  • Apple’s Competition and iPhone 7 Rumors

    July 22nd, 2016

    It’s a sure thing that, over the next few weeks, you will be reading more and more about the presumed iPhone 7. There have been plenty of rumors already, but one expects they’ll all coalesce into something close to the final product. It would be the result of the fact that it’s probably already in the early stages of production since it’s probably no more than two months from going on sale.

    As a result, it’s easy to give those rumors credibility, and there are some that appear to be consistent.

    So the next iPhone will allegedly come free of that old fashioned headphone jack. The 3.5mm jack dates back to the 1950s, when it first appeared in those small transistor radios. But the technology itself, based on the quarter-inch phone jack, was invented in the late 19th century. It would stand to reason, by logic alone, that it’s time for it to go.

    Other than being old fashioned, some suggest it’s more susceptible to water damage. That’s beyond my area of expertise. It may also be true that it lacks support for certain digital audio features that would be useful to Apple going forward, which might explain why the Lightning port may be destined for an additional task. And, yes, there are headphones already available that require the Lightning port.

    But with hundreds of millions — or billions — of traditional headphones using the standard jack out there, Apple will cause a load of grief if they do not provide some sort of convenient — and free — adaptor plug so the inconvenience is minimal. Indeed, there are rumors that the iPhone 7 might be capable of wireless recharging, which means you won’t have to tie up the Lightning port for double duty. I do not expect Apple’s adapter, if it exists, to support two connections.

    I’m whistling in the dark, however. If the rumors are true, and they sure have been persistent for a long time, I am pretty confident that Apple will take steps to make the change as seamless as possible. Obviously, Apple is not reluctant to remove ports when deemed appropriate. But I can see where scare mongers might be having g a field day, particularly if the fears are spread by Apple’s competitors.

    Past the headphone jack, the rumors suggest a form factor very similar to the current models. But any rectangle with a touchscreen is going to have a basic resemblance to other rectangles with touchscreens. It can have squared edges, curved edges with a different radius, and different amounts of space from bezels to edges. So it is possible to make loads of minor changes within the same structure. At the end of the day, all these variations will still appear to be very similar.

    Now I suppose Apple can vary dimensions enough to point to distinct differences here and there. Maybe the next iPhone will even be a tad thinner, but if it mostly looks the same, that shouldn’t be the deal breaker. Do you expect something diamond-shaped to have it stand apart?

    The major changes may involve LCD and glass, the Touch ID sensor, plus loads of internal components that include the processor, graphics hardware, camera parts, lenses, haptic circuitry, and loads of onboard sensors. You get the picture.

    Apple could spend more than an hour of its media event outlining all the distinct improvements in the next iPhone, but if it looks mostly the same, the critics will say it’s a subpar upgrade.

    While I have no direct evidence that this is so, I would not be surprised to discover that Apple’s competitors were, in part, responsible for feeding at least some of the unconfirmed stories about a disappointing upgrade. It would serve the interests of Samsung and other companies to lower expectations, in the hope that you might want to consider jumping to Android — or sticking with Android — when it’s time to buy a new smartphone.

    Apple’s rivals are no doubt helped by the fact that there are breathless so-called journalists who are only too happy to post stories that diminish Apple’s products and services. In yesterday’s column, I mentioned a poll that, in asking about the future purchase plans of iPhone owners, included a question about the new model not being redesigned. That’s a question certain to discourage people who might be ready to buy the next iPhone, and that’s precisely what the results showed. Little more than 9% of users participating in the poll said yes, while it soared to over 25% in response to a question about a major redesign.

    But if every single component inside the next iPhone receives a major enhancement, but the case is mostly the same, isn’t it still a “major” redesign? I’m wondering.

    Obviously, this is all about a product that hasn’t been released. It hasn’t even been demonstrated, and Apple has not said anything about it, nor would one expect them to. Now it may be that some journalists will receive early information on background (meaning not for attribution), and perhaps you’ll see such stories in one or more major publications as it gets closer to the release.

    But not now. Any claim that the iPhone 7 will be a poor upgrade should be suspect until there is a real product out there to consider.



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    2 Responses to “Apple’s Competition and iPhone 7 Rumors”

    1. dfs says:

      When Apple started up its iPhone Upgrade Program, for the first time in company history it entered into something that looks very much like a contractual obligation with one category of its consumers — the participants in the Program– to put out a new model on more or less an annual basis. If it failed to do so, very likely it would leave itself exposed to a class action lawsuit it might very easily lose.

      This, i. m. h. o., was a monumentally bad business decision. In exchange for what has probably proven to be a very modest bump in iPhone sales, Apple has painted itself into a corner where it faces a strong incentive to put out half-baked, reputation-damaging equipment just to satisfy the requirements of the Program.

      This, I suspect, is the background to the production of the iPhone 7. Evidently there is nothing significantly new in this model. Changes such as the hotly discussed presence or absence of an earphone jack are really only minor issues, virtually deck-chairs-on-the-Titanic stuff. I strongly suspect that if the Program did not exist the production of a new iPhone would have been put back to 2017 or whatever time would allow Apple to come up with a product that is significantly newer and better. The iPhone 7 doesn’t seem like it’s going to fit that description.

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