Apple announced the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X at an event in Cupertino on Tuesday. The iPhone 8 series is a new iteration of its popular range, while the iPhone X is a flamboyant new design with an unprecedented pricing. What does this mean for the brand and its consumers? Well, we spoke to Thomas Husson VP, Principal Analyst – Marketing & Strategy at Forrester Research for his opinion. Here is what he thought:
How do you perceive the iPhone X? Is this the Apple phone fans have been waiting for?
I think the iPhone X delivers on Apple’s brand DNA. It is combining several new technologies – in some cases already launched by competition – but turning them into new consumer daily life experiences thanks to the power of its brand and developer ecosystem. For example, Face ID offers a more truly integrated, innovative and secure way to interact with your smartphone, to pay for goods and moving forward to interact with your environment. AR is nothing new but integrating it with new sensors directly at the OS level and with a potential installed base of hundreds of millions of users will unleash creativity and enable Apple to gain innovation leadership.
I am not sure if Apple fans had clear expectations on what to expect but usually they have irrational expectations that Apple can launch completely disruptive innovations. The iPhone X will not disrupt the smartphone market the way the initial iPhone revolutionised mobile and many other industries. However, coupled with iOS 11 innovations, it will reinforce consumers’ and brands’ loyalty to the Apple ecosystem as well as illustrate the evolving role of smartphones in an increasingly connected world. Smartphones are dead. Long live smartphones. They will play a central role in activating adjacent technologies like IoT or conversational interfaces.
In this transition, Apple will lead innovation in the Augmented Reality space but needs to accelerate with Artificial Intelligence. Siri needs more than a new voice. For brands and third parties, I think we’re still scratching the surface of the mobile revolution. Mobile natives, born with the iPhone, is an entire generation poised to rethink every engagement through a mobile lens. This revolution is also fueled by the fact that mobile is like electricity: a first wave of change that enables new disruptive technologies to emerge.
Is the $999 pricing going to have an impact on the sale of this phone in markets like India where Apple would want to do well?
With its new iPhone X flagship device, Apple aims to set it apart from competition in the premium smartphone market – a segment that only target affluent consumers. In China, the largest smartphone market worldwide market, the brand new design of Apple’s latest device will position it more a status device, targeting a niche but significantly growing percentage of the population with a strong purchasing power. A lot will also depend on how telecom operators subsidize the device so that they don’t see any meaningful difference on the monthly subscription they pay.
Installment purchase plans are emerging in some countries making the device more affordable but Apple does not obviously target the masses with such a price point. I think Apple faces tough competition in China but there is a niche but growing installed based of consumers who can afford such a pricey device status.
Does the iPhone 8 series have in it enough to get loyal users to upgrade?
I think so even though one of the key risks is the later launch of the iPhone X in November. By launching new iPhone 8 and 8+, Apple is extending the lifecycle of these products and answering directly to Samsung’s latest move while differentiating the iPhone X as the new standard in the premium smartphone space.
Over the past decade, Apple has mastered the art and science of managing the lifecycle of its products by extending them via software, content and services’ integration. Let’s face it, fierce competitors like Samsung or Huawei have already launched some technology features embedded into the new iPhone X. However, Apple’s competitive advantage lies in its integrated hardware/software approach and in the power of its developer and brand partner ecosystem. I think Apple is best placed to combine these emerging technologies and translate them into differentiated experiences solving customers’ daily problems.
Disclaimer: The author is in San Jose, California at the invite of Apple.