With months left until the iPhone 8 is expected to hit shelves, Apple is more than ready to let its commemorative 10th anniversary smartphone bury the previous iPhone 7 line. Scratch only the surface and this may seem unfair. Why would Apple try to ignore a generation that now accounts for 80% of all iPhone sales in the U.S.?
Despite its success in sales, it marks an underwhelming update to the Apple brand.
More specifically the 7 line struggles under the weight of Apple’s innovative spirit. Its willingness to discard well-loved features for newer ones is something critics have condemned in the past. Rather pessimistically, they don’t think innovation is motivating the Cupertino-based company to upgrade their handset but pride and price. Change made for change’s sake, usually to introduce a new piece of costly hardware, isn’t appreciated by the masses. Case in point: the disappearance of the headphone jack in both the 7 and 7 Plus.
Though a relatively minor hardware feature, its sudden lack in the newest generation caused outrage in the Apple fandom. Replaced by wireless AirPods or an unwieldy headphone adapter cord, the headphone jack joins an easily damaged Jet Black finish and an altered home button to the list of changes that served only to disappoint and frustrate people.
But these frustrations were felt outside of the typical Apple consumer. After nearly a year since the 7 series first launched, Yahoo Finance conducted a self-selected survey on this very design feature. Out of 7,741 people who clicked through Yahoo’s survey, 71% of them thought it was a bad decision to remove the headphone jack. More importantly, 73% of those who identified as Android users said they were now less likely to switch to an iPhone thanks to this feature.
This poses a challenge for Apple. People are taking longer to upgrade their smartphones. They’re using decals, skins, and wraps to help keep their iPhones and Androids in working order three or more years down the line.
Even those with the iPhone 7s can’t be relied on to make the switch to the 8, despite the frustration they may feel about certain hardware features. Once Apple removes a feature it’s gone for good, so the 8 will rely on wireless AirPods as well.
Any flagship iPhone also has the disadvantage of being the most expensive generation in the family. For those without the budget to upgrade every year, they’re using iPhone wraps from designers like dbrand to increase the life of their phones. The dbrand collection includes exclusive styles that can reinvent the look of the 7 and other legacy generations in 5 minutes or less. Meanwhile, new iPhone 7 wraps are designed to protect the gadget from scratches, scrapes, and even grime build-up so it’s in better shape down the line.
At a time when people are taking longer to upgrade their smartphones Apple must rely on platform switching to help boost the sales of future iPhones. iPhones account for roughly 15% of the market share of smartphone usage worldwide with Androids comprising the rest. If Apple hopes to tip the scales, they need to convince Android owners to make the switch. Unfortunately, Yahoo’s latest study suggest they may have lost potential Android users willing to make the jump thanks to the headphone jack’s disappearance.
The latest reports suggest the iPhone 8 will carry on in the 7 line’s footsteps. In addition to the headphone jack, the home button is rumored to disappear from the 8 line in its entirety as Apple embraces biometric unlocking techniques.
What this means for the company down the line is still up in the air. Though some people thrive on it, change is not something easily swallowed by others. Ultimately, they’ll have to get used to it. More things are going wireless every day. It’s only a matter of time until wireless AirPods (or the Android alternative) become the norm we’re all accustomed to using.