The world is about to end. The populace is planning to build a small fleet of spaceships to enable specially selected people to leave the planet and look to the stars for a new home.
Wait a minute! That’s a plot line used for several sci-fi films about how humans cope with Armageddon. One of the earlier entrants among such disaster films was “When Worlds Collide,” released in 1951. So when a new planet is discovered, scientists realize that a nearby star will crash into the Earth in a few months. All right, maybe it was just a modern take on Noah’s Arc, but the premise was still a little absurd.
But when it comes to absurd, consider all those predictions about impending disaster for Apple. Consider, then, how often those predictions have come to pass.
All right, the pundits were almost right once upon a time, where Apple did lots of things to take the company down. But all that’s something that occurred over 20 years ago, before the second coming of Steve Jobs. Since then, how often has Apple skipped a sizable quarter profit? Not very often, and not in recent years, but the critics sing the same tired old song year after year.
Do you remember the spring and summer of 2016? The iPhone 7 was going to launch and it was going to be a pile of steaming junk. Apple wasn’t able to make it look so different from the iPhone 6s, so therefore it had to be the biggest fail ever. Big time! How could Apple possibly compete with Samsung?
Of course, that was before the supposed hurried launch of the Galaxy Note 7, and its penchant for overheating and exploding batteries. Samsung allegedly didn’t take the time to properly develop and test the battery and thus it was poised for failure.
By the way, there was a brief published report that the Galaxy S8’s battery was little different from the one used in the failed Note 7, but those details vanished in short order. Perhaps it wasn’t true, since there haven’t been reports of excessive battery failures, so maybe Samsung did the right thing.
Now it ended up that the iPhone 7 did pretty well. Despite the similar case design, there was plenty of good stuff inside. A great camera, and the Portrait Mode on the iPhone 7 Plus. Indeed, Apple’s biggest mistake was to misjudge the high demand for the larger model. Thus it was backordered for weeks.
Sales slowed down a tad in the March quarter, and CEO Tim Cook blames it in part on the run up of speculation about an iPhone 8. Whether that speculation is true or not, and I suspect a large part of it is based on genuine supply chain leaks, is that a reason to hold off buying the current model? Many of the criticisms about the iPhone 7 last year claimed that Apple was engaging in a holding pattern, because something so much better was on the horizon.
But consider this: If the basics about an iPhone 8 are accurate, it will be a special premium model that may cost over $1,000. Wouldn’t most customers be satisfied with the regular models, even if they are only slightly changed from current gear? But what Apple may end up doing is to scale up the smartphone segment for buyers who can afford to pay more. It’s not unusual for Apple. Consider the forthcoming iMac Pro, which will start at $4,999 for the entry-level model, and may top out at several times that amount, priced in the same range as a compact automobile.
The other common rumor is that Apple is running into difficulty getting the new gear into production. Features may be delayed, or eliminated, and thus Apple is on the brink of disaster. Don’t forget that the Portrait Mode required a software update that came out weeks after the iPhone 7 Plus went on sale.
But don’t forget that the Samsung Galaxy S8’s digital assistant, Bixby, appears to only work properly in South Korea. Did that make the device a huge blunder? What about the fact that two of its three biometric features can easily be defeated by hackers? Shouldn’t Samsung be embarrassed to release such a flawed product?
Well, no, because Consumer Reports gave it a top rating, ahead of everything else, even the iPhone 7. The case of the missing digital assistant was mentioned; the case of the flawed facial recognition and iris sensor features was ignored.
As we get closer to the arrival of the mythical iPhone 8, there are loads of stories about delayed or missing features. Facial recognition and wireless charging may require software updates. This comes after there were claims about problems implementing Touch ID. But since Touch ID is mission critical for Apple mobile gear, the chances that it will be removed are less than zero. The rest? I suppose facial recognition may require fine-tuning, since a flawed system would be a bigger lapse for an Apple gadget than something from Samsung.
Is Apple in a state of panic? Are product and production people in freak mode? Is Tim Cook really pulling out his hair? Well, he seemed calm enough on a recent cable TV show.
But it’s really a case of taking an unannounced product, with unannounced features, and assuming there must be problems. Because… Well, it’s certain hit bait, and since nobody will ever apologize for getting it wrong, nothing will ever change.
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