The iPhone 6s may be the last of a dying breed

28 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple Sells 13 Million iPhones In Opening Weekend, Or 3,000 iPhones Per Minute.

Apple Inc. sold a record 13 million iPhones during the debut weekend of its latest handsets, as enthusiasts from Beijing to New York rushed to stores to be the first with the new devices. Apple Inc. said on Monday it sold more than 13 million iPhone 6s and 6s Plus during the first weekend on the market, a new record for its marquee product. Back when PC models were only distinguishable by the manufacturer’s seemingly random series of letters and numbers, Apple bucked the trend with a series of recognizable and memorable products names: Macintosh, Power Macintosh, Performa, PowerBook. Rather than increase the clunky number following the name to distinguish between revisions, the PowerBook 2400c and Power Macintosh 9600 became the G3 and, later, G4, eliminating the confusion and tech speak, and giving the new models a greater sense of brand recognition. The iMac, despite experimenting with a few variations, continued this trend, and following the Intel transition, Apple cut all of the extraneous monikers altogether.

But in 2013, the iPhone 5s and 5c were available in China on launch day, meaning that it still represents a big improvement compared to two years ago. Carrier contracts and a unique pricing scheme for older models forced Apple to distinguish releases not just by appearance or functionality but also by name. It started innocently enough with the 3G (which was actually the second model), letting customers know that it was capable of faster data speeds, but the following year, Apple did something out of character, adding an “s” to its name to signify even more speed.

Investors watch the iPhone roll-outs closely because Apple’s business is increasingly tied to the performance of the device, accounting for more than 60 per cent of revenue. The company’s stock has fallen about 14 per cent from a February high in part because of concerns it won’t be able to maintain its impressive run of growth. Because the two handsets were virtually indistinguishable, Apple added the “s” for marketing purposes, to let buyers easily know which model was newest and, by extension, better and more expensive.

While the opening weekend sales figures are closely watched, a better gauge of how the new handsets are selling won’t come until January, when the company reports results for the critical holiday quarter. Every other year Apple releases a redesigned model of iPhone followed by an “s” version that bumps the processor, enhances the camera, and adds a couple of features aimed at making it a must-have upgrade. Sales completed by Saturday will be included in Apple’s fourth-quarter results for fiscal 2015, while sales completed on Sunday will be included in Apple’s first-quarter results for fiscal 2016, the company said in the statement. A few weeks ago I wrote about how Apple’s “s” models have ushered in far more significant changes than their predecessors, and in many ways, they’re a much harder sell for Apple—customers are generally aware that a redesign is coming just 12 months later, so the “s” needs to wow with what it does, not just how it looks. Releasing an entirely new product every year is exhausting (even with the same outward design), and Apple is starting to run out of ways to make the redesigned model significantly different than the prior one.

But beyond that, the changes are all going to be iterative—thinner, lighter, better battery life, wireless charging—and it’s going to be that much harder for the iPhone 8 or 9 to make such a splash commensurate with its name. Unlike any other product in Apple’s catalogue—including the iPad, which saw the Air unceremoniously skipped over for an update this year—Apple is beholden to releasing a new iPhone every year, and the “tick-tock” cycle, as John Gruber so aptly describes it, perfectly fits.

Without such stringent 24-month upgrade cycles, Apple needn’t feel the same pressure to unveil disparate models each year—the spirit of the “s” will certainly stay, but I think we’re only one or two versions away from “the new iPhone” or even (gasp!) the new Apple Phone. With a revolving cycle of Upgraders, Apple could keep a particular handset design around for an extra year or switch up the release schedule without any fear of losing sales.

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