A Different Kind of Apple

This week, Fast Company published a series of interviews with Apple’s executives from Tim Cook to Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi and Bozama Saint John and if there was one point that was clear across the board is it’s that Apple is built on the core principle of “making great products” but the way to deliver that greatness might look different from what it used to. This leads many to believe we are dealing with a different company altogether rather than a company that is evolving.

Tim Cook said he does not read all the Apple coverage, which means he is possibly spared the many times the “Steve would not have done this” or “This would have never happened under Steve” sentences appear in a commentary. Aside from the obvious (we actually don’t know what Steve would have done), there is another point many seem to forget — today’s market is very different than it was when Steve Jobs was CEO.

The tremendous success of the iPhone and the consequent inability to duplicate that success has been seen as a leadership failure rather than the fact there will likely be no single product that will impact as many people as smartphones, the iPhone in particular, have done. Steve’s Apple gave us the iPhone so an Apple that deviates from Steve’s must be bad. This is basically what it boils down to for many.

But different is not necessarily bad. Tim Cook has a different personality than Steve Jobs and, as we learned from this week’s interviews, a different management style. We certainly see a more open, humble, inclusive, socially engaged leader that, in my view, has softened, not weakened Apple’s image as a company. As I mentioned, we cannot just look at management and think the Apple we see today has not been impacted by the markets it plays in. Let’s think about some of the things that are different today:
– Smartphones market has capped
– Apple is serving over 1 billion users across its devices
– Apple is present in over 150 markets
– Services grew 19% year over year
– Apple is in enterprise with more than just hardware – IBM, Cisco SAP, the boardroom area in
the revamped stores
– Apple is more vertical than it has ever been: semiconductor, hardware, software, services
– More product categories than ever
– Larger acquisitions/investments: Beats, DIDI
– Focus on new verticals other than education such as health
– Biggest R&D expenditure

Apple is evolving and, in my view, doing it faster than it would have done under Steve Jobs. This is crucial for the long-term play.

Just think how different it is to serve the Mac installed base of less than 100m units vs. 1 billion devices in the overall ecosystem. While you can try and think of everything when it comes to hardware, trying to be as inclusive as possible when you deliver a service or an app becomes more challenging when you are serving so many people in so many countries. To me, this was at the core of the Maps comment made by Cue in the interview:

“To all of us living in Cupertino, the maps for here were pretty darn good. Right? So [the problem] wasn’t obvious to us. We were never able to take it out to a large number of users to get that feedback. Now we do.”

As many indicated, we now have a Beta program for Mac OS X and iOS because of Maps but we also have a Bug Bounty Program. These are instances when being more open makes sense.

Following the interview, people lingered on the “embarrassment” Maps has caused but there were other points made that say a lot about how Apple is thinking and give insights to some of the recent investments or speculations about new directions. Cue said:

“What it causes you to do first is ask, How important is this? We had long discussions at the ET [executive team] level about the importance of Maps, where we thought it was going in the future, and could we treat it as a third-party app? We don’t do every app. We’re not trying to create a Facebook app. They do a great job. We decided that Maps is integral to our whole platform.”

You can see how, in light of this comment, you could explain the Office 365 integration on iPad or how the rumored approach to TV might be with a guide not a TV set or even how the investment in Didi will provide key learning and market opportunity for what is to come.

Another reason why today’s Apple is a distinct variety of the same company rests clearly in the fact Apple remains different in the way it approaches the market and marches to its own beat. While Steve Jobs might have said the reason for that was he knew best, the reality is it all boils down to what the core business is. For Apple, it is to deliver great products, hardware or experiences, and monetizing the high level of engagement the experience generates.

While Wall Street is worried about whether or not iPhone sales will return to growth with the iPhone 7, Apple is also worrying about how to remain a highly valued company for the long run. As Cook said:

“It’s hard to imagine a market defined in units—not revenues—that’s that big.”

Many of these areas offering new revenue opportunitiy will clearly benefit from the installed base of valuable users Apple has built. Users who are highly engaged in the ecosystem and see Apple as a trusted provider.

Published by

Carolina Milanesi

Carolina is a Principal Analyst at Creative Strategies, Inc, a market intelligence and strategy consulting firm based in Silicon Valley and recognized as one of the premier sources of quantitative and qualitative research and insights in tech. At Creative Strategies, Carolina focuses on consumer tech across the board. From hardware to services, she analyzes today to help predict and shape tomorrow. In her prior role as Chief of Research at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, she drove thought leadership research by marrying her deep understanding of global market dynamics with the wealth of data coming from ComTech’s longitudinal studies on smartphones and tablets. Prior to her ComTech role, Carolina spent 14 years at Gartner, most recently as their Consumer Devices Research VP and Agenda Manager. In this role, she led the forecast and market share teams on smartphones, tablets, and PCs. She spent most of her time advising clients from VC firms, to technology providers, to traditional enterprise clients. Carolina is often quoted as an industry expert and commentator in publications such as The Financial Times, Bloomberg, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. She regularly appears on BBC, Bloomberg TV, Fox, NBC News and other networks. Her Twitter account was recently listed in the “101 accounts to follow to make Twitter more interesting” by Wired Italy.

1,318 thoughts on “A Different Kind of Apple”

  1. Your last quote

    “In terms of unit sales, yes, there may never be another iPhone. But in terms of revenue, well, look at the industries that Apple is just now entering, or is rumored to be pursuing”

    is not from Tim Cook. Rather, it’s the author, Rick Tetzeli, expanding on Tim’s exact words in the previous paragraph.

  2. Great column. As s product guy there’s no disagreement that it is hard or impossible to duplicate the iphone for many years to come. It’s a once in a generation product. With that said it’s been disappointing to see Cook’s Apple seemingly rest on their laurels and not being more proactive in building off that success. Says to me there’s no longer the same level of risk taking and innovation that brought us the iPhone.

    1. Apple. Resting on our laurels and not innovating since 1976. ™

      Seriously, this has been the criticism of Apple for decades. Apple always seems like they are not doing much, because Apple doesn’t talk about or show work in progress. Then when they do show a product like the iPod, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, even the original Mac, those products are almost universally given negative reviews. Worse yet, Apple then has the gall to slowly improve those products through an incredibly boring iterative process.

      If you pay attention to the details it is obvious that Apple is working on a number of fronts to build off the iPhone, in Services especially, but also in what I call the Apple Network of Things. But the significant increase in R&D spending over the last two years should tell us there’s a lot more going on as well (an estimated ten billion for 2016). And don’t forget the AI-related and AR/VR companies Apple has purchased, as well as investments in other companies (about 28 in total in the last couple years). I’m not sure how any sound analysis can come to the conclusion that Apple is resting on their laurels and not being proactive.

    2. I would have to disagree with you on the resting on the laurels comment as I really do not see that when I look at the pace of acquisitions/investment and the areas they are looking at. Where people thinking the same back in 2006 so before the iPhone when they were looking at the iPod and asking if Apple was gonna be able to match that success?

      1. My comment was with respect to the iPhone. There’s been little progress in the product since the 6 and by all reports we will see minor improvements with the 7, So that’s 3 generations now.

        1. It’s a mature product – please name a significant improvement that could be made to smartphones that would have a measurable impact over today’s devices.

          1. I think Apple has latched onto thinness as an important characteristic, starting with the Apple Air. It’s become a given and a part of their design language, and they’ve pushed it relentlessly and have become zealots about it. When this happens it’s easy to lose site of the unintended consequences and be insensitive to changing use patterns, such as needs that tax the power. Clearly they excel at thinness, but suffer a short battery life and even make the phone harder to hold.

            When designers initially design a product, they often make assumptions about power drain, power needs and many other things, only to discover once the product is done, the results of their assumptions. And apparently, as in this case, they are reluctant to admit their assumptions may be not what they assumed.

          2. Just one anomaly in the trend of thinness once you include their most recent offerings of the Airs

          3. Anomalies should not be conveniently ignored without explanation. Instead, theories should be adjusted.

            In this case, I would suggest that rather than being zealots, Apple probably has a clear internal goal for battery life. Their designs can be as thin as they like if they still meet that goal, but no thinner. The iPad 3 could not meet that goal without getting thicker, so they made it thicker. The recent Airs exceeded that goal so they made it thinner. I suggest that instead of theorising that Apple are zealots, you should theorise that they have a clear battery life goal.

            The same probably applies to iPhones as well. Apple probably has a clear battery life goal for phones. You are justified in arguing over whether that goal is suitable or not. However in light of the anomaly, your theory that Apple are simple zealots needs more proof to be the basis of a serious discussion.

          4. I’m pretty sure Apple has said publicly a number of times that they’re designing for one day of battery life given average use. I wouldn’t expect a change from that until Apple knows they can jump to either 18 hours or two days of battery life.

          5. Yes exactly. One can dispute whether Apple’s definition of one day battery life is adequate (especially with rogue apps like Facebook), but proclaiming that Apple is driven by zealots is baseless.

          6. I said this in another comment, but given that Apple designs for normal consumers, and the reality of normal consumer behaviour changing and requiring longer battery life, I think it’s safe to say an iPhone with significantly longer battery life is already in development. That also gels nicely with new battery tech that is one to two years out. I would expect an iPhone with significantly improved battery life within two years, which means it’s in the lab right now.

          7. I agree that Apple is probably working hard to improve battery life, but at the same time, I wonder if this is the only solution. Even with better battery life, Apple will still not be able to satisfy Pokemon GO players for example on a single charge. Moreover, you can count on Facebook to relentlessly waste whatever power surplus Apple may have scavenged. Maybe what we really need is better battery packs/cases.

          8. There are rumors of Apple working on wireless charging at a distance. That would be an interesting solution, a battery pack that fits nicely in a pocket/purse/bag and comes in varying sizes from a few hours of extra juice to multiple days worth of extra charge.

            Still, some of the new battery tech could result in batteries with five times more capacity, or even more, and much faster charging. Would an iPhone with 60 hours battery life that can recharge in 10 minutes satisfy even a heavy Pokemon Go player? Of course research in a lab is hardly a commercialized product, who knows if any of the new battery tech being worked on will be as good as the research hype.

          9. I think you’re very right. Designers don’t realize than most people *only* have their phones, no tablet nor PC to share its workload. Nor wifi, only 3/4G that sucks up a lot more juice. And need a brighter screen than in the Bay’s smog ^^

            What’s interesting is that they admitted just as much about the botched Maps launch and their new beta program: “It worked fine for us in California, but we shouldn’t have assumed it was OK for everyone”. If only that enlightenment could spread to their hardware design.

          10. You are comparing a pre-launch failure that Apple addressed after launch (Maps), to something that Apple most likely has a huge amount of usage data on (phones).

            It’s unlikely that you can attribute the same root cause to both.

          11. If you count those things as innovation, then you should also count thinness. Apple has made significant progress in thinness.

          12. I would definitely take it one step further, in fact, I always believed this:
            If DOS did it, it’s not innovative today, it’s catch up.

            PS- Shopping for innovation is generally not innovative either. What you might do with it, might be.

          13. The guy didn’t request “innovations”, but “improvements”.

            Also, thinness is a taste. I find my new Xiaomi Mi Max too thin, though at least it didn’t come at the expense of the battery (a solid 2 days and some)

          14. Ultimately what counts is what sells. Whether that is a feature or a taste does not matter as long as it sells.

            Battery life and thinness are trade offs between each other. Techology improvements that allow you to improve battery life are the same ones that will allow you to make you phone thinner. Companies have to choose which one to take. From the viewpoint of many techies, Apple’s choice deprioritises battery life too much. However, Apple’s choice might actually be just right for selling more phones.

            Battery life and thinness tend to simply be different manifestations of the same underlying technical improvements.

          15. There’s a bit of a paradox about that though: everyone keeps designing thinner phones, and then advertising battery life. I’m guessing there’s a bit of a conflict between what looks good in the store and what is good for actual use.

            That’s not an Apple-specific issue. My iBrother is about as disappointed in his Galaxy S7’s battery life as he was in his iPhone’s (= doesn’t last a regularly busy day, 7am to 11pm), yet Samsung advertises a long battery life.

          16. I’m surprised that you managed to convince your iBrother to get a Galaxy S7.

            Tell him to get an Apple battery case because I’m very satisfied with mine (I put it on only when I run out of power, and to do this I use only Apple cases which are easy to take off. I’m sure your iBrother would approve.)

          17. He convinced himself mostly, because of the indoor picture quality of live subjects (incl. OIS), and he was expecting better battery life. And he was tired of all his iPhones breaking at the first drop (and at the second ^^), with the screens becoming increasingly more impossible to DYI and expensive to repair.

            Anyone can get OK battery life with an extra case, he had a fixed one for his old iPhone + an external pack to get popular with colleagues and friends at events. He’s now using the wireless desk stand with his GS7, it mitigates the incovenience of having to charge during the day, at least no messing with cables and the phone is easy to look at and grab.

            He mostly misses iMessage (network effects lock in, we need to move more people off iOS so that thing dies or becomes cross-platform as any messaging app should be), and is having issues with how some apps handle (or not) the SD.

          18. “Ultimately what counts is what sells. Whether that is a feature or a taste does not matter as long as it sells.”

            Then shouldn’t declining sales be a concern to push more customer relevant changes to iPhone, such as battery life? When battery life is universally the main complaint with smartphones, including with the best sellers, Apple could certainly increase sales, or at least stem declines by forgoing maximum thinness for battery life.

            But they don’t. So what counts is something in addition to what sells. I don’t know anyone who purchased an iPhone because it was super thin. That may be an over simplification or reduction of the buying psychology and all the factors involved, but I really don’t know anyone who has said “If only the iPhone were thinner”.


          19. Phones in pockets can make unslightly bulges. Plus it’s a conversation piece, and those need immediacy: “it’s so thin'” works, “it runs forever”, not so much. Phones are handbags now, nobody ever asked/commented on the capacity or durability of anyone’s handbag. Plenty of comments on looks though.

            I know you don’t agree with the handbag analogy, and prefer cars. Side question: do you know of any mass-market cars available in gold and rose gold ? There are such hanbags.

          20. All analogies fall somewhere along the way. The handbag analogy just falls faster than the car analogy.

            Usually a person owns multiple handbags to serve different purposes, some of those more fashion oriented, others more cartage oriented. More than the number of phones they may own.

            Most people own about as many phones as they go cars. So there is always the balance.

            My comment was more in the context of what sells and particularly iPhone sales, which are declining. And with battery life the number one complaint, I bet you if Apple could significantly increase battery life, and I mean more than an hour or two (I can get that much by just slight adjustments in things like brightness), more people would be talking about that than thinness and with the same joy you think people talk about thinness.

            The point I think Naofumi either implies or bypasses is not what sells, but what sells _enough_. I really think Apple could do other things than they are doing to increase sales. But obviously they think they are selling _enough_. So it really isn’t the reductionist idea of what sells, but what sells enough for purposes other than the phone itself.


          21. I think we’re both underestimating the fashion angle. I think it’s a big part of how Samsung managed to turn around so quickly. Granted, they’ve got the best screen and best camera and water resistance right now and no major miss elsewhere, but above all their phones just stand out, even next to iPhones, especially the way-above-expectations Edge and now Note.

            It seems for some reason Apple thinks thinness is part of that fashion angle. And bezels aren’t.

          22. The fashion angle is the only thing left when no one is pushing battery life (I really don’t think people are all that concerned about waterproof, at least not broadly. Unless you just enjoy pouring champaign on your phone.)

            But, again with cars, when gas prices are high, people are generally not talking about how sexy their car is, they are talking about gas mileage, and car sales reflect that as they shift to more fuel efficient models.

            Look at electric cars. While there were many avoiding them because of how they looked the people buying them were all about the mileage (hybrids) or lack of need for gas. Green is still a huge selling point.

            If Apple could make some monumental leap in battery life (again, not just one or two hours, but a real substantial difference) no one would care about thinness. Thin may be one more thing to appreciate about them, but I really don’t believe “Thin” is on anyone’s checklist of desired features. Would love to be proven wrong on that.

            [I do concede there is a balance. But if iPhones weren’t delivering something other than looks, I don’t think they would sell as they do.]


          23. “thin” isn’t explictly, but “makes me look cool” very much is, and “thin” for some reason is implicit in that.

            as for mileage.. that’s a very apt analogy, except phones are handbags, not cars ;-p

          24. I don’t think “thin” is on anyone’s checklist either, that’s the wrong job-to-be-done to consider. The proper jobs-to-be-done are “fits in my hand/pocket/purse/bag” and “easy to carry/is light”, and thin is part of that. Of course thin is part of the industrial design, but plenty of thicker iPhones looked cool enough. Fashion is a red herring. Yes we want the things we use to look nice, but that’s just one small part of the buying decision. Focusing on fashion as a key driver will only lead to poor analysis.

            Apple is always designing for a day of battery life given average use. I wouldn’t expect much change from that until they can jump to two days of average use.

          25. It could also be argued that Samsung returning to functionality that truly differentiated them from iPhone, such as removable storage, played a role in that turn around.


          26. It would be a difficult argument:
            – pretty much every Android phone has an SD slot; only Samsung has managed huge growth in the luxury segment while rising prices
            – both flat and Edge versions have an SD, why would the Edge version be benefitting disproportionately from it ?
            – Samsung also had an SD slot on the GS5 which started their downwards trend.

            I’d love for actual features to explain Samsung reversals and re-reversals. Or even business stuff (distribution, promos, ads). I can’t really point to anything changing except looks though. LG is crashing this year with a flagship as good as anyone’s, but ugly.

          27. And thinness is long in the tooth as a conversation piece, with the incrementalism at work right now. If this was new, sure. But at some point it is like walking around Florence, Italy. the old buildings are amazing and astonishing at first, but after a time it becomes “Oh, look. Another old building”.

            Now if the next iPhone were as thin as the actual display, THAT would be a conversation piece. That would be a huge leap.


          28. I’m wondering is thinness is purely aesthetic, or if there’s some kind of functionality about it that’s flying over my head (right now I’m seeing antifunctionality to it: battery, ergonomics, durability, and other compromises see Jack).

            I’m also curious as to where this is going. It’s a safe bet moar thin will be possible for a few iterations, then probably flexible. Do we want that ? Does it make any kind of sense ? How do you rigidify something that’s flexible (that’s needed for reading and touching, or is it ?) ? Are we going back to epapyrus scrolls ? All of this because they won’t give me a damn HUD in glasses ?

          29. True, but you are arguing a different point here. The original argument was whether Apple was resting on its laurels, which would be the case if Apple wasn’t even making their phones thinner.

            As to whether thinness is more important than battery life, without access to more data other than anecdotes from techies and complaint incidents, it’s hard to say. I find that if you don’t use your iPhone much, it easily lasts 3-4 days. If your job is such that you aren’t allowed to access Twitter during work hours, I can easily see battery life of the current iPhone being OK. At least I’m sure that Apple has access to detailed battery usage data.

          30. There have, at least, been numerous surveys that have shown battery life to be a major issue with many buyers of all brands. Sure seems like a no briner to me. But I don’t design phones.

            In the sense that thinness is SOP for Apple, it is a kind of resting on their laurels. Not totally if they keep thinking how to advance that design. It is certainly myopic. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Apple articulate why thin is better, though, to make me think it is still somehow innovative. Otherwise it is just another old building (see Florence reference in another post).

            I can’t say I’ve ever seen any data showing 3-4 day battery life. The most I (iP5s) or my wife (iP6) have ever squeezed out is two days. YMMV, I guess.


          31. I am aware of the surveys.

            Let’s just say this. If Apple really wanted to increase battery life, they could do it very easily at the expense of thinness. The technology is there.

            In that sense, it’s similar to screen size being an “innovation”. If Apple though that they needed to do it, it would be quite simple to do. And if the market really wanted it, sales would be huge. That’s all there is to it. Not a large issue for Apple really.

          32. Right, which gets back to my point that what matters is not the reductionist view of “as long as it sells”, it is more “what sells enough”. As long as they sell enough, not a large issue. Apple has to do more than just what sells, else they have no way to further their ecosystem and services.

            And if you don’t think they are concerned with their declining sales, then they really are resting on their laurels. Thinness, aesthetic or not, isn’t doing it any more. Which is probably why most reports indicate no change in physical design this next time. To do so when faced with affecting with battery performance would be suicide exactly because of those studies. I bet Apple thinks it is a larger issue than you do.


          33. Having managed tech support teams, I do not consider complaints to necessarily be representative of total customer sentiment. I am however aware of data that shows 30% of users (both iOS and Android) carry mobile battery packs. The same report also shows 30% of iPhones and 50% of Android users having downloaded a battery saving app. 40% of users strongly consider battery life when purchasing a smartphone, again with 30% for iPhone and 50% for Android.

            However, longer battery life has significant implications for weight and thinness. Consider how heavy and bulky the battery packs currently on sale are. Also, I have seen tests that give the iPhone 6s actually has decent battery life. A battery that could last a day despite heavy usage of Twitter, Facebook, Maps and Pokemon GO would be very bulky and heavy.


            Is Apple working hard to reduce power consumption? Yes, there is no doubt about it.

            Will Apple try to satisfy even power users’ thirst for battery life? No, I think they’ll aim for something like the Pareto Principle.

          34. Sure, use whatever data you want to use. Personally, I think one only has to be mildly observant to see that battery life is an issue. Just walk through an airport. Even Apple conceded that when they released their own battery pack. But that is just a work around, not a solution.

            “However, longer battery life has significant implications for weight and thinness.”

            Exactly my point. And in the face of declining sales, Apple presumably forgoing furthering thinness, customers that are obviously less enamored with thinness and, in light of your comment of “what matters is what sells”, Apple is clearly at a turning point with regard to “what sells”. Which direction will they turn is the salient question now. Apple focusing on services has little meaning if they can’t sell enough hardware.


          35. As I mentioned previously, at some point I expect we’ll see a jump to two day battery life with average use (or maybe 18 hour). Apple’s road map for this stuff is very long term, I would assume they already know roughly when this jump will occur, when they will reach ‘thin enough’. Is it 2017? I doubt it. I would guess 2018 or 2019. It does remind me a bit of the jump to larger screens. If we look at the history of that move it becomes obvious that larger screens were already in development when pundits were predicting the iPhone’s demise because Apple was already too late with larger screens. The same could be true now, Apple most likely already knows when they’ll introduce a significant improvement in battery life.

          36. As far as I’m aware, there is no public data that directly associates iPhone’s sales decline to the lack of battery capacity. As I have said, although there is data to suggest that people do run out of power, there is none that I know of that suggests increasing battery capacity at the cost of size, will increase sales.

            Furthermore, there is the question of how much battery size increase is required. A battery size that would satisfy even heavy Pokemon GO players for example, would certainly put off normal users, who actually do get through the day with current capacity. How many additional sales will say a 20% increase in battery size bring, and how many sales will it reduce due to customers who actually value thinness? What is the net result? Can you really draw conclusions without actually specifying how much more battery life you want, and how bulkier the phone would become?

            Be aware that although Android phones tend to advertise long battery life, it is often no longer than what the current iPhones provide. They aren’t actually making longer lasting phones but just saying so.

            Also be aware that Apple is sitting on a huge pile of data, either gained anonymously from their phones or from people visiting their Apple Stores.

            Finally, it is very straightforward to increase battery size at the expense of thickness. If you think Apple is adverse to this due to some funny corporate culture, remember the iPad 3 which increased size to accommodate its Retina display.

            The way I see it, the people who say “Apple should” based on thier incomplete and insufficient information, are totally underestimating Apple.

          37. I don’t think I’ve ever said what Apple _should_ do.

            You’re the one who said what sells is what matters and Apple is faced with declining sales. I am sure your data is as extensive as Apple’s. So you’re right I am wrong. I only have what I see happening and what I hear and read reported. Obviously you have superior data.

            There is nothing else Apple can do to differentiate from Android, as you say Apple and Android both suffer similar battery performance. If only all those people complaining really knew what they wanted. I mean, heck, it’s obviously NOT better battery life. What in the world could they be thinking? They obviously aren’t looking at the right data, for goodness sake.

            You win!


          38. Since my message did not seem to get across, let’s see if an anecdote will help.

            I carry Apple’s battery case with me all the time. The reason is because when I travel and spend more than 5 hours on a train, I tend to use my iPhone a lot to get information from the Internet. This happens once in a while, and when I do, I end up using about 150% of a full iPhone 6 charge.

            Now, if I wanted Apple to provide ample battery life covering even these days, then Apple would have to increase battery size by 50%. I do not know exactly how thick or how heavy that would make an iPhone, but judging from the weight of the Apple battery case, I definitely know that I would not like it (I have my case off most of the time, and put it on only when it’s needed). I would prefer a thin and light phone that satisfies my battery power needs 90% of the time, and to carry extra power in my briefcase, instead of in my pocket.

            For me, a 20% increase in battery size will be mostly useless. I will still run out of battery at exactly the same frequency, and I’ll have to carry heavier stuff with me all the time for this unnecesary feature.

            I know that many people complain about battery life, but I don’t know how frequently they run out of power, and how much extra power they need when they do. I have no idea how many people would be satisfied with a 20% battery increase, and how many people (even the ones who complain) would not find it significantly useful.

            It is very likely that Apple does have this data, and is optimising for this, taking into account that to increase battery life, you need to increase thickness and weight.

            Do I think the people who complain about battery life know the optimal balance that will maximise sales? Not at all. I am constantly surprised by the people who think they know better than Apple, without even what I consider basic data.

          39. Look, we’re all armchair quarter backs here on the internet. Regardless of the data, however, data doesn’t provide answers, it only provides data. Data always needs interpretation and context. What we are left with is doing our best to connect and infer dots. If we had ALL the data we needed to make decisions then we would be omniscient.

            I do know Apple wants to delight customers. I know six Apple customers, right now, that scramble every night around 8pm during the show we are working on who try to get their power fix so their iPhones will be charged afterwards. Those are people who would be delighted not to have to scrounge around for power. These are not power users, as you seem to want to keep pointing out as clueless.

            THAT is a problem waiting to be solved. That is a problem, if Apple were to actually solve, I will bet you money would boost sales because, as we’ve all pointed out in the comments section here, NO ONE else has actually solved it.

            And once you throw on a case, what in the world is the point of having a thin, beautifully designed phone?

            Do I know how thick a phone and battery has to be? I have no clue. Neither do you. We can deduce and infer, but unless you are an actual engineer working on battery technology, you don’t know either. You don’t have the basic data. And we don’t have to know. We’re not the one trying to sell phones that run on batteries. We’re just hanging out on the internet trying to explore what could be.

            Arguing that Apple knows what Apple is doing is not a “data” driven position. That is not the point of discussion among all us layman outside the “know” of Apple. That doesn’t even allow for discussion. That’s like invoking “semantics” in a discussion. That is a power play to stop discussion.

            Why am I not allowed to wonder if Apple could solve a basic universal smartphone problem, how much better things could be? Because I don’t have what you consider as basic data? Hell, I don’t even know what _you_ mean by basic data. Who gets to decide what is basic enough data? You? Well, that’s convenient.

            And by the way, anecdotes ARE data. It just isn’t the kind of data you like.


          40. Your friends should buy a battery case, there’s a ton to choose from, and most will double your iPhone’s battery life. When you need it just slap it on and keep going (or buy an external battery pack but that isn’t as mobile). But most of the time you won’t have the battery case attached to your iPhone. This is the current solution to the problem you describe. There are cases that are reasonably thin, so that would actually give you some idea of how much more weight and volume a larger battery would add. I think it roughly doubles the weight and volume of your device.

            As I said before, Apple likely already knows when they can make a significant jump in battery life (either to 18 hours or two days of average use) in conjunction with being thin enough to accomplish the jobs-to-be-done of “fits in my hand/pocket/purse/bag” and “easy to carry/is light”.

            Just a quick thought on another point you made: “Arguing that Apple knows what Apple is doing is not a “data” driven position.”

            I would argue it is a data driven position. We have three decades to look at and while Apple certainly makes mistakes and could improve many things, they are generally on the right track most of the time.

          41. That’s a workaround, not a solution. The problem is poor battery performance. The solution is better battery performance, not an additional accessory. If it needs that from the get go, it should come with it.

            The “jobs to be done” for quite a large group of people also includes a battery that lasts long enough (at least a full day). If Apple wants to _really_ delight their customer, make it last a week! All the things an iPhone can do are meaningless if the battery is dead.

            Arguing Apple knows what Apple is doing is not a position at all. It is a power play attempting to stifle discussion. It has nothing to do with continuing discourse. That it is a true statement or not is irrelevant to discussing what could be done with, in this instance for example, battery life.

            I would include the argument that “Apple (must) have a great deal of data on iPhone usage.” Maybe true enough. But that in and of itself does not address the obvious need for better battery life. And since Apple is not participating in the conversation to share what data they may or may not have, it, too, is irrelevant unless a in-house slide gets leaked, ala, large screen smartphone market research.


          42. Pointing out that Apple has data and knows what it is doing does not stifle discussion. Quite the contrary, it gives us a basis in reality to work from. Given that Apple knows what it is doing and has the relevant data we must then discuss why Apple continues to design for one day of battery life for average users.

            I would guess that Apple already knows when they will make a significant jump in battery life (and also ease of charging). There is a lot of very promising battery tech on the horizon, perhaps one or two years out.

            On the larger screens, when people were calling for Apple to make a larger screen the data showed clearly that larger screens were a very small portion of smartphone sales. The usefulness (and future sales growth) of larger screens was of course obvious and I said at the time that Apple was almost certainly working on a larger screen iPhone. I was right. The larger screen iPhones weren’t a hastily cobbled together reaction, they were already in development.

            I’m pretty sure I’m right now as well. Apple doesn’t design for the edges, they design for normal consumers. Now, normal consumer behaviour is changing, and that normal behaviour requires longer battery life. Given Apple’s long term road map for development I’d say you’ll get it within two years, maybe one year. But not sooner than that, I would be quite surprised. Pundits will scream that Apple is too late, and just as with larger screens that will be nonsense. The iPhone you want with significantly longer battery life is very likely already in development.

          43. No one knows what Apple knows. You are making things up. That’s not reality, that’s fantasy.


          44. I’m not making anything up. I’m making reasonable assumptions based on historical data, common sense, and objective analysis. It is simply not reasonable to assume that Apple doesn’t have plenty of data on the battery issue, isn’t aware of all the new battery tech in development that could yield five times or better capacity, and doesn’t have a development road map at least two years out. If you start from that basis your analysis will be terribly flawed.

          45. Battery technology is challenging, and lags demand. That having been said, Apple has sacrificed battery performance for vanity (thinness). There’s nothing stopping them from having a thick model, and letting the consumer choose.

            That is, other than one company can’t o everything and this highlights that shortcomings of a one company ecosystem.

        2. I would also add iOS and Apple specific iPhone software to that, which seems to be where they are focusing a great deal of effort at this point, which, after the hardware, is the only place left to affect change. But many of the changes have only added complexity without real usability, deviating from their simplification/minimalism mantra of old.


        3. Is it “resting on their laurels” or “managing the upgrade cycle” ?

          Apple customers are very loyal (due to satisfaction and lock-in). It makes sense for Apple to delay some features to both maximize immediate margins, and make sure each generation has just enough novelties to justify/motivate upgrading 2yo devices. I guess Apple will keep doing that as long as there’s no pressure from customers switching away nor non-customers switching in.

          There might also be procurement issues: lots of Android devices sell in the millions or tens of millions, Apple’s sell in the hundreds. Kyocera can get/make enough sapphire screens for their own phones, but not for Apple’s.

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