Apple has a problem, that much is certain.
It has pretty much maxed out its current market for iPhones, and the Chinese market is not budging. Despite its best efforts, it remains stubbornly in a distant second place behind Huawei in the Middle Kingdom. What’s more, it is not just iPhones sales that are suffering as the world’s most valuable publicly traded company struggles with growth figures.
Sales have also plateaued for Macbooks, iPads, and every kind of Apple gear you can think of. There are only so many people in the world who are willing to shell out thousands of dollars for gadgets that will at best become outdated in 9 months or may be slowed down deliberately to make them buy a new one. Amidst all this, what is Apple’s Big Idea to spark a sales rally and boost stock performance? Enter Airpods 2.
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New Airpods Will Do The Trick Apparently…Said No One Ever
Stalling sales? Service offerings not yet offering a revenue alternative? Opening a vanity project streaming platform doomed to become yet another wannabe Netflix? Never mind, the solution is…Airpods 2. The second generation of the iPhone’s distinctive wireless earphones, retailing for $159 will be the magic pill – just what the doctor ordered.
Or at least, that is what I would say if the suits at Apple HQ had thought this through correctly. For the modest and not-at-all outrageous sum of $150, you can now get the new Airpods which look identical to the original Airpods. It is now possible to enjoy among other things a wireless charging case (bought separately for $79), a free laser-etched engraving on said case, generally unchanged sound quality, and…that’s it.
That is Apple’s genius plan for sending customers wild. Another set of overpriced wireless earphones with horrendously overpriced accessories, which offers no genuine functionality that generic alternatives do not. In other words, the company still has this idea that the act of slapping an Apple logo on a piece of plastic and tailing it for an arm and an eyesocket can still fly in today’s market. Worse still, this is supposed to be one three hardware releases in just five days that should send Apple stock spiking and keep prices high.
Apple is Focusing on the Wrong Things
Having an iPhone in 2010 was probably a big deal. Technologically, it was far ahead of its then competitors, Blackberry and [insert cut-price Android device], and it offered an unmatched stylishness compared to its contemporaries. People understood that it looked like something out of a NASA research facility, but more importantly, it felt like that too.
These days, it is possible to take your pick of readily-available $150 Android devices that can do pretty much everything an iPhone can do. Oh sure, photos taken with an iPhone camera might have a few more pixels, but except you have the eyesight of an owl, you probably couldn’t tell anyway. Technologically, Android device makers like Hauwei, HTC and Samsung have caught up or even overtaken Apple.
Apple seems to believe that it can still get some mileage out of this by doubling down on the “exclusive” Apple branding thing. Here’s a pro tip: that ship has sailed. Apple no longer holds a technological advantage over its competitors, and branding alone cannot replace innovation. Instead of trying to brand its way out of a tight spot with $150 earphones that will go viral on Instagram but not in real life, the company needs to revisit what made the iPhone so successful in the first place – market-leading technology in sexy packaging.
Apple needs to stop spamming the market with overpriced filler releases, stop trying to become the new Hulu-Netflix-Amazon and just focus on what made it great to start with – leading technology in a sexy package.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not represent those of, nor should they be attributed to, CCN.