As the new year begins, it’s always an illuminating exercise when you sit down and take a look at the market as it stands. Things have changed a lot in the mobile sector in the last couple of years. Apple has always appeared to be an innovator, establishing the trends to dominate the landscape for the next period, but can we still say that’s true?
Here we’ll take a look at the current marketplace, the year ahead, and how things might be changing.
iPhone 7: A cool reception?
Apple’s iPhone 7 launched on 7th September last year with a warm reception from consumers, though not one that set the world on fire from a sales perspective, with launch weekend sales 25% lower than when the iPhone 6s was released in 2015. With lower than usual chip orders flowing into chip suppliers (orders of between 35 and 37 million, according to sources close to Taiwanese publication DigiTimes), Apple shares dropped as much as 2.7%.
That said, the iPhone 7 was a strong innovator, with the most controversial change being the move to wireless headphones, and the removal of the headphone port. While this move was scorned by many, it enabled the handset to reduce its number of moving parts, increasing its physical stability, as well as its waterproofing capabilities.
It’s more than likely that this was a move that customers wanted, just without knowing it. Everybody wants their phone to be more robust, it’s just a question of whether people want to move to wireless buds. The next year’s top-end phone releases will likely provide the answer to that. There are strong rumours that Samsung are working on their own pair of wireless in-ear buds that use Harman audio technology following their $8 billion acquisition earlier in 2016.
Where will Apple turn next? Some are predicting that the next move for the high-end phone market is to ditch “charge-by-cable” altogether. Instead, phones will charge wirelessly. The Galaxy S6 was capable of this way back, and the rumours are that LG’s G6 will feature wireless charging too.
Apple’s iPhone 8, which will likely be discussed at their annual spring event, will feature an entirely glass case, which enables better wireless charging. There are also claims from Energous that Apple has signed a deal with “one of the largest consumer electronic companies in the world”.
The phone will probably also feature some iteration of the company’s new Touch Bar technology that featured on the new MacBook Pros, as the organisation has a habit of using whatever technology it has across all of its products (retina display, multi-touch, Touch ID etc.).
So is Apple losing its innovative edge? It certainly doesn’t look like it from the above rumours. What’s actually happening is that the marketplace itself is becoming more saturated. Phone networks and customers now have more options than ever when it comes to what handsets they set. That’s why SIM-only sellers like Asda Mobile are seeing their business grow year-on-year; because there are more market participants doing more great stuff than ever before.