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Tech Breakthroughs Take a Backseat in Upcoming Apple iPhone Launch (reuters.com) 114

Stephen Nellis, reporting for Reuters: The new iPhone is expected to include new features such as high-resolution displays, wireless charging and 3-D sensors. Rather than representing major breakthroughs, however, most of the innovations have been available in competing phones for several years. Apple's relatively slow adoption of new features both reflects and reinforces the fact smartphone customers are holding onto their phones longer. Timothy Arcuri, an analyst at Cowen & Co, believes upwards of 40 percent of iPhones on the market are more than two years old, a historical high. That is a big reason why investors have driven Apple shares to an all-time high. There is pent-up demand for a new iPhone, even if it does not offer breakthrough technologies. It is not clear whether Apple deliberately held off on packing some of the new features into the current iPhone 7, which has been criticized for a lack of differentiation from its predecessor. Still, the development and roll-out of the anniversary iPhone suggest Apple's product strategy is driven less by technological innovation than by consumer upgrade cycles and Apple's own business and marketing needs.
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Tech Breakthroughs Take a Backseat in Upcoming Apple iPhone Launch

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  • "Still, the development and roll-out of the anniversary iPhone suggest Apple's product strategy is driven less by technological innovation than by consumer upgrade cycles and Apple's own business and marketing needs."

    Doing it for the money, who woulda thought?

    It's true though, every time they come out with a new feature it's like they invented it.
    • by bigdady92 ( 635263 ) on Thursday February 23, 2017 @10:02AM (#53917365) Homepage
      Apple's Marketing is awesome like that.

      One thing I will give Apple is that they will take technology that is mostly mature, fix lots of bugs and kinks, then roll it out and proclaim it "New! Exciting! So Pleased to show you!"

      Yes Premium Android Smartphones have had everything that the Iphone8 will have for years. Apple will bring that capability to the masses and then the fleet of android handset manufacturers will push those features out till every single phone has it.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It's not the marketing, it's the consumer. The vast majority of consumers want mature technology. They don't find bugs and quirky behavior a selling point nor do they want that on them even if it means some kind of bragging rights. Apple does it right by consumer demand. It's not cutting edge but it works and I'm more than happy with that. I can't recall the last time Apple put something out there that I really felt that they should have done sooner. I remember far too many rushed-to-production "features" o

      • This speaks to the /. crowd not really understanding what "technology" is.

        Do you think Thomas Edison really "invented" the light bulb out of thin air?

        New technology is pretty much always a slight improvement from some previous tech. Marketable consumer technology makes its improvements in things that consumers care about (i.e., getting rid of those bugs and kinks--and this isn't easy, btw, try it someday). Apple wins in the market because they are (a) trying to solve the technology problems that matter most

    • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Thursday February 23, 2017 @10:27AM (#53917553) Journal
      "if you want to know what is coming in the next iPhone, just look at what was new on Android two years ago"
    • by Guspaz ( 556486 )

      Sometimes they did invent it, or do it first. Sometimes they took something pre-existing and polished it enough to be practical. Sometimes it was done better by other companies first. But this sort of describes every major smartphone vendor.

      My point is that while there's certainly some of it, Apple isn't entirely "me too". They've had some firsts, like beating everybody else to market with 64-bit ARM by something like a year, and they've generally been something like 3-6 months ahead of the curve in terms o

  • by dugancent ( 2616577 ) on Thursday February 23, 2017 @09:57AM (#53917327)

    There is pent-up demand for a new iPhone, even if it does not offer breakthrough technologies

    No, not really. As long as it gets security updates and still works, why bother upgrading? I just replaced the battery in my iPhone and expect to get at least a couple more years out of it.

    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

      There is pent-up demand for a new iPhone, even if it does not offer breakthrough technologies

      No, not really. As long as it gets security updates and still works, why bother upgrading? I just replaced the battery in my iPhone and expect to get at least a couple more years out of it.

      My wife finally replaced her iPhone 4 last year. With one of my parents' old iPhone 5 that they had laying around since they both now have work provided phones. Even phones that are 2 generations old are still plenty good enough these days. I was using my S5 until last week when it got smashed in my car door to the point the display was shot. It's the only reason I now have an S7, but I was planning to hold on to my S5 for at least another couple years.

    • by trawg ( 308495 )

      No, not really. As long as it gets security updates and still works, why bother upgrading? I just replaced the battery in my iPhone and expect to get at least a couple more years out of it.

      Anecdata: with every new iPhone release, a little less than half of my friends upgrade. The next release, the other almost half upgrade.

      Most people I know are on a every-second-phone cycle that seems to suit them pretty well. There's a very small percentage (maybe 2-3 people) who always upgrade to have the latest one, and a slightly bigger group who stick with their phone until it dies.

    • No, not really. As long as it gets security updates and still works, why bother upgrading? I just replaced the battery in my iPhone and expect to get at least a couple more years out of it.

      Exactly my thoughts/experience... there is no reason for me to upgrade my iPhone 4. It does everything I need it to do, and if it doesn't, I'll jailbreak it. The phone is still using the original battery; I fully cycled the battery anytime I got the chance to (which was pretty much every charge) and it still goes for days. Amazing, really.

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      Which model do you have? I am debating to keep using this 4S with its crappy original battery life or upgrade/replace it since it is slow and no more updated iOS.

  • by dbialac ( 320955 ) on Thursday February 23, 2017 @09:58AM (#53917343)

    a headphone jack.

  • Get all the perks of the latest phone with all the bug ironed out. Still riding out a 6s until the 8s rolls through. 2-3 years for a phone is about right for me. No need to upgrade immediately as apple rarely does anything earth shattering in their phones any more.

    Why should I be someone's guinea pig for new features when this phone meets 99% of my needs.
    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

      Why should I be someone's guinea pig for new features when this phone meets 99% of my needs.

      Out of curiosity, assuming you are doing a payment plan and not paying for the phone outright, if the phone meets 99% of your needs why are you upgrading every 2-3 years as soon as you get your old device paid off? With the 2 year upgrade cycle people are locking themselves into perpetual device payments.

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        IIRC, the AT&T Next program or whatever they called it made my last iPhone (6 Plus, so it's been a while) basically an 18 month interest free loan.

        If you're upgrading on two year cycles, then that's at least 6 months with no payments. 3 years would make it 18 on and 18 off with payments.

        In some cases, even "perpetual" payments may not be as bad as they seem. Until the 6 Plus, I upgraded every year but my wife got my year old handset and her handset got pushed down to be our "home" phone. So each phon

      • We switched away from buying our phones through Verizon, to the Apple Upgrade Program. It's a zero-interest loan over 24 months, but you can upgrade every 12 months by extending the loan so that you have another 24 months remaining.

        On this plan, the most logical behaviors are to 1) pay off your phone and hold onto it as long as possible, or 2) upgrade the moment you can so that you're not continuing to make payments on last year's model. The worst option is to upgrade every two years, because your monthly p

        • The way Verizon currently handles the iPhone and the Galaxy S line is on a yearly upgrade cycle now exactly as you described. I pre-ordered the 7 Plus to replace my strangely behaving Note Edge, and I'll be able to get the new iPhone when it is released, without having to go straight to Apple.

          • We ran the numbers and Apple's plan came out better for us. One big advantage is that Verizon is just our carrier now, so if T-Mobile makes a better offer we're not contractually bound to anything.
      • I paid for the phone outright. Not on some payment plan locked to a vendor who will charge me an arm and a leg for service. It was cheaper in the long run to do this vs go with ATT/VZ/SPrint

        I can choose to upgrade or I can stay with the current phone. 2-3 years is the length the phone batteries last, screen gets scratched to shit, device gets wonky. A hardware refresh keeps me uptodate and I got my money's worth out of the device.
  • The biggest change for me coming from Android is the lack of a filesystem.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This word, breakthroughs, I do not think it means what you think it means.

  • How can features be "innovations" if they're already present in other phones?

    They may have been innovative features when first released - but they're already out in the market now.

  • by HalAtWork ( 926717 ) on Thursday February 23, 2017 @10:16AM (#53917471)

    "There is pent-up demand for a new iPhone, even if it does not offer breakthrough technologies"

    Why is there demand for a very modest upgrade? It seems like people are holding onto their old phones because the upgrades are insignificant..

    • by Anonymous Coward

      That and the iPhone 7 is a rather significant downgrade in two respects: the obvious loss of the headphone jack and the less obvious loss of the physical home button.

      Slashdot has reported on this some, but the home button in the iPhone 7 is no longer a physical button. It's now a pressure-sensitive "soft" button. This means you can't use it if you're wearing gloves (not even the ones that "work with touchscreens") and that it can just randomly stop working when the software crashes. It no longer feels like

  • I have my phone (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by AndyKron ( 937105 )
    I have my phone. Let Apple play catch up. Fuck Apple.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I feel like this is consistent with PC upgrade cycles. Sure, there are tech breakthroughs, but as someone who upgraded their PC every year or two for over a decade, my last one went for 11 years and was really still perfectly usable and acceptably played what I threw at it. I only upgraded because it was starting to not like POSTing on a regular basis.

    I feel like for most users, they're not pushing their iDevice or Android anywhere close to it's potential and will be able to continue using it far longer tha

  • It's amazing that a news company can divine a company's whole business strategy from un-proven rumors about a single product. Just awesome.
  • As someone who moved on from Android, I don't care for stupid things like wifi charging. First of all wifi charging causes a ton of stress on the battery and causes premature failure. Also, I don't use most of the other touted features. Apple should be working to improve its calendar and mail apps. It also should add an IR to the phone as that is the only missed feature to my Samsung. This all being said we have finally reached the stage that smartphones are good enough to pretty much do everything we want
  • Headphones (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CohibaVancouver ( 864662 ) on Thursday February 23, 2017 @12:57PM (#53918693)
    My wife's two-year-old iPhone 6 started glitching, so she just replaced it with - An iPhone 6.

    She likes the iPhone technology stack (I'm an Android guy), but refuses to buy a phone without a headphone jack. For times when she does want to go wireless, bluetooth works fine for her.
  • I want a new Mac Pro Tower, not another box using throttled laptop parts. Oh, and I'm not storing video projects in the cloud so I need to have a box that has a lot of room for hard drives. And two ethernet ports.

  • Interesting way to twist the narrative from Apple being a leader in innovation to Apple purposedly delaying tech breakthroughs to their advantage... I guess it's the fanboy distortion field operating once again.
    If they remove features to sell more dongles it's for having courage to take the next step, if they don't adopt a tech that is plenty mature it's because they have something in development that is better, if they close down the system it's either for security or privacy, if they make accessories prop

Just go with the flow control, roll with the crunches, and, when you get a prompt, type like hell.

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