Welcome to our regular collection of all the Apple news you missed this week in one convenient, bite-sized roundup. We call it Apple Breakfast because we think it goes great with a morning cup of coffee or tea, but it’s also cool if you want to read it during lunch or dinner as well.
The brilliant, unrepeatable iPhone
The iPhone turned 15 this week and Apple fans around the world are reminiscing about their earliest memories of the device. (If you’re in the mood for nostalgia, check out our original review.) June 2007 feels like an eternity ago. The world is a different place now, and a small part of that can be attributed to the iPhone itself, a truly groundbreaking product.
Apple has changed too. What was once considered a Mac company has in fact long been the iPhone company, certainly in terms of revenue and user base. Whether it’s moving millions and millions of phones, slashing app sales, or (as part of a smart turnaround that’s happening) selling subscription services to wealthy iPhone owners, Apple would be doomed without its miracle product.
The company, of course, has tried to replicate the miracle, as has everyone who suddenly realized they could turn water into wine. For a while, some hoped the iPad would surpass its predecessor; In fact, it initially sold much faster than the iPhone, taking just under a month to sell a million units the iPhone had taken 74 days. But the comparison was fallacious and sales never reached anywhere near the same dizzying heights, simply because tablets haven’t found a way to integrate into our lives and pockets in the way smartphones can.
The Apple Watch, when it launched a few years later, wasn’t in the same magnitude for sales or visibility, while the HomePod barely played the same sport. The AirPods did well, but nobody’s going to upgrade their wireless earbuds every year — or pay a thousand dollars every time; customers could can barely handle half even for premium over-ears. And most importantly, don’t build your life around your headphones.
It sounds melodramatic — the stuff of bad cartoons shared on Facebook — but the iPhone really can be the center of a person’s daily life. It wakes you up in the morning, guides you through your work schedule, keeps you in touch with loved ones, and amuses or teases you through social media. The iPhone is so obsessive, so ubiquitous that even Apple started adding features to help you put it down. When the bookmaker stops taking your money, you know you have a problem.
Once you understand the centrality of the smartphone, it’s no longer surprising that no other Apple product has been able to match the iPhone. The happiness or benefit a product can bestow is equal to its quality multiplied by the part of a person’s life it will occupy. They may release the largest smartwatch in the history of the planet, but it’s still a smartwatch. How much better can it make your life?
The other factor is the surprise itself. Apple will never again be able to release a product as surprising as the iPhone because its fans expect something so good at every event. and the leaks are a problem also on this front. When the AR headset arrives, half of the audience will likely already know the details from leaks, while the other will have conjured up impossible expectations and complain bitterly when they aren’t met.
So it’s hard to imagine Apple releasing another device to match the iPhone’s impact anytime soon. By dominating our lives and raising expectations for each subsequent launch, the iPhone created a world where its success could not be repeated. It’s hard to see that as a failure.
And it’s not like the iPhone went anywhere. Indeed they exist four new models coming in just a few months. Tell that to the people of 2007 and see who envies whom.
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And with that, we’re done for this week. Sign up to receive regular summaries our newsletters. You can also follow us on twitter for breaking news. See you next Saturday, enjoy your weekend and stay Appley.