I think, as many have said, Apple had a very lackluster year in 2015. While new products have continued to fly off the shelves after each product launch and the lines still appear outside Apple Stores, demand for Apple products overall is waning. Apple cannot afford another ‘S’ year.
iPhone sales are down, even if sales remain higher than any other phone on the market.
iPad sales are down, partly cannibalized by the phablet phenomenon of the iPhone 6+ and 6S+ and I believe saturation of devices and longevity of the prior models. Nothing compelling has come out of the iPad camp revitalizing the product line, there is no ‘gotta have’ hot new feature to drive new sales – no Force Touch does not count!
The iPad Pro attempt to meet the needs of the new hybrid PC/Tablet market had a very soft impact. Apple’s reaction to this market seems to be a knee jerk reaction to get something on the market in this sector. Unfortunately it falls short both on the hardware and the software front. Nothing compelling about usage, it is a poor amalgamation of an iPad and MacBook. The hardware falls short with its lack of expansion and accessories, the software falls short in delivering real productivity tools and multitasking. Any success in this area would be an iPad/MacBook hybrid BUT Tim Cook has stated there the two operating systems would not merge (like Windows 10 has attempted to standardize and run across all devices) As an attempt to hit the Surface line of computers and the adoption of similar devices now from other manufacturers the iPad Pro falls way short as any form of ‘enterprise’ device. Maybe iPad Pro S will fix some of these issues BUT with Apple’s reluctance to use expandable storage and with its tight grip on the accessories and operating system I fear this will again be a long haul iterative upgrade/improvement process.
Apple Watch has not gripped the market as expected. Initial total reliance on a iPhone to run the applications and drive anything on the watch was hugely disappointing as is the battery life. It is a fashion item, not really much of a life enhancer in my view.
Apple needs to turn things around this year. There needs to be a compelling device, I doubt there will be a new niche segment of the market defined this year but they need a winner again. Also a little design common sense would be refreshing.
I think one simple area Apple could improve in 2016 is something so rudimentary and basic it is shocking that after its launch in 2012 it is still a common pain point for probably 95% of device users.
Yes, the trusty Lightning Cable. In theory one of the greatest (if non-standard!) ideas in a long time. A reversible connector which allows both the charging and syncing of now quite a good number of Apple devices.
Its ease of use is wonderful, users of MicroUSB cables have been in envy of the connector until the savior of the USB type C connector which now seems to be gaining momentum (based on the adoption rate as CES 2016).
The Lightning cable is the worst case of design and longevity Apple has ever designed. Despite its vast teams of designers, testers and the unfathomable amount of resources available to Apple at 1 Infinite Loop, it would seem that designing a cable that can meet the daily usage demands of regular users is impossible.
One positive aspect of these design flaws is that 3rd party accessory manufacturers have a constant revenue stream from these forever dying, breaking, failing abysmally original leads.
The problem is these 3rd party leads have issues too. Compatibility – you can’t just make a lead, you have to ensure you are licensed and have the required chip installed in your 3rd party lead. So what does this mean – no license means some hacked, spoofed chip signal in numerous Chinese imported leads. The problem with that is that regular Apple iOS updates kill of these charging cords. So even if the Chinese did perfect the Lightning cable (which they have not according to my experiences!) they would be screwed probably with the next iteration of iOS. Licensed 3rd party cables fair a little better both being compliant with Apple’s certification (i.e. they pay the Apple tax) and additionally a little more thought and design may have gone into trying to make the cable more sturdy.
This is actually the main selling point of MANY 3rd party cables BUT not many of them live up to their claims.
Is it the design mandate for the licensing and inline taxation chip that is the inherent problem with all Lightning cables – maybe so.
So come on Apple, make 2016 the year of the Lightning cable or consider another couple of options:
Adopt USB Type C like the rest of the tech industry – this I guess would upset everyone who currently has invested in Lightning accessories and 100 packs of sync cables from eBay
Remove the inline tax chip and solidify the design of the cable and connectors so that a cable can last more than a month. Micro and mini USB cables do not have these issues why should Lightning cables have these major wear and tear issues?
The cables also need to be strengthened to meet the new unique charging challenges for newer Apple devices that now charge using the connector.
There has also been talk of Lightning cable based headphones as Apple tries to find ways to slim down devices. How on earth would they survive the continual stress and bending of in-pocket use? Another apparently patented idea which would probably be a shaved standard connector as shown here – this without any form of in-line taxation chip would probably be a smarter and more durable solution.