Has the iPhone really had its day?
When a huge, pervasive piece of technology hits the mainstream, it goes through a number of phases. First comes the hype, where it's being touted as a world-beating game changer that anyone who's anyone simply has to get on it early.
Then it reaches peak popularity, where the hype is seen as largely justified - so the majority of consumers get on board and it emerges as the go-to product. After this comes the inevitable decline, as all the cool kids lose interest since it's become so mainstream and a new pretender emerges on the scene to challenge its dominance.
There are reports abounding that the iPhone is emerging out of peak popularity and could already be in decline. Is this really the case, or are reports of its demise greatly exaggerated?
In the middle of last year, Forbes reported that month-on-month iPhone sales in key markets had dropped. Furthermore, this decline wasn't just for one month, but had been going on for some time, with markets in the UK, Japan, America, France and Spain all registering similar drops.
These figures were backed up in December, when a notable drop in iOS usage among smartphone users was reported. Most interestingly, the iOS decline almost perfectly mirrored the opposite result on Android devices.
All this lead to some declaring the iPhone's days to be numbered - but all may not be quite as it seems.
For example, the iPhone 6 was named as the third biggest selling smartphone of Q4 2015 - giving Apple quarter-on-quarter growth in the process. Though Android registered an increase during this period, no individual device managed what the iPhone did. That said, Apple's history of launching new devices in autumn could have played a significant role here.
Not all as it seems
The figures also vary depending on which source you choose to use. Kantar came up with all the above figures, but ComScore had a very different outlook on the matter. It claimed that over the three months to July 2015, Apple subscriptions grew by 1.1 per cent on the previous quarter. During that same period, LG subscriptions grew by just 0.3 per cent and Motorola's figures stayed resolutely unchanged. Meanwhile, HTC and Samsung dropped by 0.2 and 1.3 per cent respectively.
It's also worth looking at company profits, as these are what could be invested into creating the new technologies that will inevitably get the wheels of the hype machine turning once more. Google's parent company Alphabet made headlines recently for having the most profitable quarter in American history - leaving Apple having to make do with second place. Though many had remarked this would put Apple's metaphorical nose out of joint - so competitive is the
Silicon Valley company - being the second most profitable company in America is still an enviable position to hold.
So the stats tell a little, but not much. Is Apple really losing ground, or are people just a little over-eager to report its demise? In all likelihood, the iPhone will have market dominance for some years yet, as people have grown to trust the devices upon which they hang much of their lives.
To retain this position, however, Apple is likely to need to build hype once more. All too often, iPhone launches have been lambasted by critics for being evolutionary, not revolutionary. If iPhones are to continue leading the charge, this may need to change, and quickly, though in the meantime, their dominance remains assured.
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