Taking a look back at another week of news and headlines from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes the iPhone’s Chinese failure, Apple losing the high ground, another rushed iOS release, iPhone 11 Max details leak, slow iPhone charging, the next Apple event, the AirPods 2 are delayed but very fashionable.
Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can read my weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).
Apple’s Chinese Failure With The iPhone
Following Apple’s quarterly earnings call (and profit warning) being laid squarely at the door of China and the lack of significant iPhone sales, analysts and reporters have been taking a closer look at Tim Cook’s decisions in the region. While there are some issues around forex and trade relations, it’s becoming clear that Apple’s faults are down to Apple’s decisions and misunderstandings. Ben Lovejoy reports:
While Apple sells a number of older models at lower prices than its flagships, there is a reluctance in China to be seen using older gadgets. Some have suggested that an iPhone SE 2 would be one solution, one that Apple previously seems to have rejected, but the poor holiday quarter results have led to speculation that the company may have to rethink the decision. We saw a new concept video just yesterday.
Some former Apple execs have even postulated that Apple iPhone sales in China can only be revived by creating a China-specific iPhone model.
Is This How Apple Loses The High Ground?
The failure of the modelling of the Chinese market must surely bring into question Apple’s ability to model other markets. If the team cannot be relied on to get China right, why should it be relied upon to get the US, the EU5, or other markets right? It’s something that I noted earlier this week:
I would suggest that the problem lies closer to home. The Chinese market changed in the latter half of 2018 and Tim Cook’s Apple either failed to spot the changes, or ignored them in the belief that iPhone sales would be bulletproof. Three key elements failed in China. All three should have been expected and addressed before a profits warning was needed.
Another Rushed iOS Release?
While it addresses the security issues around Group FaceTime and vulnerabilities in Live Photos, iOS 12.1.4 continues to introduce new problems. While the quick turnaround on the security issues is welcome, this shouldn’t be at the cost of new flaws creeping in. Forbes’ Gordon Kelly:
…Apple’s latest release is an essential upgrade for all iPhone and iPad owners. Unfortunately, that essential status means you’re also set to experience some bumps along the way.
The problem is Apple iOS 12.1.4 not only introduces some new bugs, it also carries over serious WiFi and cellular data problems from previous releases (1,2,3,4,5) and they are affecting iPhone and iPad owners who had previously managed to avoid them.
New iPhone 11 Max Details Leak
Everyone is expecting Apple to make the move to a triple-lensed camera this year when it releases its new iPhones in 2019, not least one of its key suppliers of camera lenses:
The details come from Largan Precision, a supplier in the production chain of a number of smartphones. Although it has reported a drop in Q4 revenue, the smartphone camera lens manufacturer is expecting to see an increased demand for its product, which includes 3-lens camera units. It has already declared orders from Oppo, Vivo, Huawei and Samsung, and is expecting to gather more business during 2019.
The expectation is that Largan will build on its relationship with Apple and will be providing new hardware for the upcoming iPhones, such as the iPhone 11 Max which is widely rumored to be shipping with a three-lens rear camera.
Apple Slows Down iPhone Charging
Details are also coming via accessory manufacturers of Apple’s decisions regarding peripherals in the iPhone retail packaging during 2019 – and it looks like Apple is keeping the costs as low as possible while forcing users to pay for accessories that come as standard with Android devices. Gordon Kelly reports:
Speaking to official accessory makers, acclaimed Japanese tech site Macotakara has revealed Apple will ignore recent pledges about value and once again ship all its new 2019 iPhones (dubbed ‘iPhone 11’) with cost-saving slow 5W chargers. Moreover, upgrading to new iPhones to fast chargers will remain eye-wateringly expensive.
Your Next Apple Event Is In March
Before the iPhone launch in September Apple has another launch. The traditional ‘end of March’ event will take place in the Apple Park campus. What’s on the menu? More focus on software and services, and less on hardware. John Paczkowski has the details:
Apple has settled on a date for its first big product announcement of 2019. Sources tell BuzzFeed News that the company plans to hold a special event on March 25 at the Steve Jobs Theater on its Apple Park campus. Headlining the gathering: that subscription news service that has been all over the news today. Unlikely to make an appearance: next-generation AirPods, or that rumored new iPad Mini.
AirPods 2 Delayed Again
Personally I think that new iPads are likely to make an appearance, if only for Tim Cook to talk about how they are gateway devices to Apple’s cloud-based services, and re-emphasise their use in education (building on the March 2018 event), but the lack of new AirPods is another blow to the product line. Thye have been ‘on the cards’ since last September, but have been delayed once more. Steve ‘@OnLeaks’ Hemmerstoffer:
Some #AirPods2 details I got from a new and yet unconfirmed but seemingly reliable source. Thus, I can’t vouch these at 100%… – New wireless charging #AirPods Case to be launched soon BUT shipped with current AirPods – Brand new AirPods + new color(s) likely unveiled this fall
Perhaps it doesn’t matter that the AirPods 2 are delayed. Perhaps what matters is not the feature list, the specifications, or the quality… but the appearance and the fashionable impact of the in-ear stalks? Elena Cresci has a theory:
…somehow, the £159-a-pair little pods have transformed into a bona fide status symbol. Diana Ross has a pair, Kristen Stewart wears them and a woman in Virginia has even started a cottage industry by turning them into earrings for people (which does solve the problem of inevitably losing them).
And so, the butt of the joke is not the AirPods themselves but the wealth and status of the people who wear them
Apple Loop brings you seven days worth of highlights every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future. Last week’s Apple Loop can be read here, or this week’s edition of Loop’s sister column, Android Circuit, is also available on Forbes.