An Apple A Year

by Sue Halpern



What do I (think I) know about the new iPhone 6? That it’s going to have a bigger screen. That’s it’s going to have two bigger screens since there will be two models. That the model with the even bigger screen is not going to be available right away. That both screens are going to be made from “stronger than steel” sapphire glass. That it is going to have rounded edges, just like the old days. That it is going to have a whole new operating system. That it will be able to measure my heart rate and count my steps. That it will be my e-wallet. That it is being unveiled on September 9th. That it is going to be cool. Really cool. So very cool that something on the order of 80 million people will ditch their previously really cool phone and buy one of these new, cooler, ones.

What do I know about the new iPad? That’s going to have a bigger screen. Way bigger than the iPad mini, which the company was finally compelled to produce after Samsung, Asus and Google showed that a segment of the population wanted to downsize. And it was great. But this new iPad is going to be greater. Literally. By about four inches greater. Why is bigger better? Bigger is always better, except when smaller is better. (Let’s hear it for the diminutive 11 inch MacBook Air on which I am typing this!)

What do I know about the new iWatch? That Apple hired a marketing executive from an actual watch company, which must mean that it is finally about to enter the wearable tech sector. That the iWatch is going to be announced along with the new iPhones on September 9th. Maybe.

And how do I know these things? I couldn’t tell you, exactly. There is an ambient quality to “information” about new Apple products. They swirl through the atmosphere. They are traded like bits of intelligence among children anticipating Christmas morning. Apple hardly needs a marketing department. The marketing department is us. This, among other things, is the legacy of Steve Jobs.

And since Jobs studied zen, here is a koan in anticipation of September 9: Why do Apple products cost more? Because they do.

As Leonid Bershidsky points out:

As long as the Cupertino company is able to sell millions of devices at prices that reflect nothing but the brand’s cachet, it doesn’t have to care about its shrinking market share: it will continue to skim the cream while rivals sweat every dollar.

And, he goes on:

After receiving hundreds of insulting messages every time I have the gall to question Apple’s superiority, I am convinced its products are cult objects made in heaven as far as its fans are concerned. Apple adherents don’t care about the Samsung provenance of the “revolutionary” 64-bit processors in their phones: to them, anything the company touches is sanctified, be it a Qualcomm camera module or a Bosch accelerometer.

Apple would be stupid not to use this incredible — and, after three years without a truly innovative product, inexplicable — competitive advantage. Its devotees will believe anything: That a $1,200 phone costs so much because it has a sapphire screen, because it’s bigger than before, simply because it’s the new iPhone. Tell them that using sapphire only adds about $15 to the cost of the phone, or that the Galaxy S5’s 5-inch screen costs $63 compared to $41 for the iPhone 5s’s 4-inch one — not a major difference considering the fat margins — and they will shrug: Apple wins.

(Image: Apple’s press invite to its Sept. 9th event.)