The success of the iPhone 14 depends on something unexpected
This story is partCNET’s collection of news, tips and advice on Apple’s most popular product.
When Apple executives show the, as expected, you probably won’t notice many changes on the device. Rumors suggest that the notch where the selfie camera sits could be smaller, and Apple will likely tout fast gaming performance or the new always-on-screen tech. But the feature on which the company will bet the most to attract customers will be the one introduced two years ago: 5G wireless.
Of course, for some people, 5G is old news. For others, it’swho came before. But more and more data is piling up, indicating that 5G wireless is becoming almost as important in today’s iPhones. , the two features people pay attention to the most when buying their phone. The current wireless standard, which has been available for several years from all major US carriers, is also the second most cited reason by people who told researchers at consulting firm Deloitte that they had changed their phone provider. mobile, behind “better value for money.”
That’s a far cry from how 5G was perceived at launch and in the early years when the service was activated to much fanfare.. But carriers have invested billions of dollars in infrastructure and the airwaves to support it, resulting in better service in many places.
Apple CEO Tim Cook is one of the biggest proponents of 5G, quoting him almost every time he’s discussed iPhones in public since he first pitched the technology with . “5G has been an accelerator” discussing the future prospects for his company’s handset, despite and one . “I think there are reasons to be optimistic.”
Every year seems like a test of the iPhone’s continued popularity, and it will rightly continue this year as well. The iPhone is the company’s most important product in almost every way. Apple recorded more than $191.97 billion in iPhone sales last year, more than half of its overall revenue. Much of the iPhone technology has seeped into the rest of its business as well, with related products like the, headphones and become multi-billion dollar companies on their own.
It also helped lift Apple’s value to more than $2.5 trillion, up from $60.7 billion on Wall Street just before the device was announced 15 years ago. Today, Apple is the most valued company on the planet, followed by oil giant Saudi Aramco, Microsoft, Alphabet (Google), Amazon and electric car maker Tesla.
The big picture
This year, however, iPhone success won’t just be a measure of sales adding to Apple’s profits. It will also be an indicator for the economy as a whole, giving an idea of people’s willingness to spend at a time when our collective confidence in the economy has fallen to its lowest level in decades. Companies big and small have slowed new hires or started laying off staff, like Snap, Facebook’s smallest social media competitor, did last week.
Still, 5G, as yawn-worthy as it is in the tech industry, may be Apple’s key to success in navigating the declining economy we all seem to be facing. Wedbush Securities estimates that approximately 240 million of the billion iPhones in use worldwide have not been upgraded in the last three and a half years and therefore do not work on 5G networks.
Owners of older iPhones will likely upgrade at some point, especially since wireless carriers offer perks liketo get people to upgrade. “The rigidity of the iPhone upgrade cycle is still underestimated,” Wedbush analysts wrote in a message to investors earlier this summer. “That remains Apple’s unique advantage over other tech stalwarts.”
Dream a little 5G dream
A weird aspect of the 5G upgrade cycle may be that while people are buying – as in, they don’t want to buy new non-5G phones – 73% of respondents to Deloitte surveys said they wanted a “better understanding” of what 5G offers, and 30% said they were disappointed with “a perceived lack of innovative applications and services that take advantage of 5G”.
When carriers first started promoting 5G several years ago, they were talking about the next-generation wireless technology that could usher in a new sci-fi device-laden future. The promise of 5G has manifested itself everywhere, fromat at .
So far, 5G has largely delivered on its promise ofBut that’s about all.
Carriers, meanwhile, have convinced people that 5G is necessary in part by disabling old 3G service, effectively pushing some people to upgrade and indirectly informing 4G users that they will eventually be the next.
Now, with economic uncertainty on the horizon, people need to think more carefully about purchasing devices they may not be upgrading for several years.
“If you buy a smartphone, you are going to buy the best possible at a certain price”, Maribel Lopez, a longtime industry watcher and director of Lopez Research. “People have to make some serious choices when considering a 30% increase in the cost of food and a doubling in the price of gas.”
“Nobody, unless they needed a cheap phone, would buy a 4G phone today,” she added.
All of these trends don’t mean that Apple’s iPhone is a guaranteed hit, with or without economic catastrophe unfolding around the world.
To sweeten the introduction of the iPhone 14, Apple teams are working hard to deliver software updates with itsas a new “widgets” to add information to the lock screen, undo-send in Mail and .
They’re also said to be tweaking new features like always-on display, which would allow iPhones to show limited information on the screen even when it’s typically turned off, andwhich can come in handy if you’re stuck on a desert highway or in the middle of the ocean.
To some people, all of these might seem like unnecessary features just to get something new out of the box this year. But Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi said Apple needs to ensure it introduces important features for early adopters and premium buyers that are “critical to brand perception”.
“You can’t let this high-end user feel left out or forgotten,” she said. And for everyone else, she expects carriers to offer subsidies and other freebies to convince people that the real big changes will be in the value they get from the phone.