back to article Apple: Crisis? What innovation crisis? BTW, you like our toothbrush?

Analyst outfit CCS Insight issued a report about the innovation crisis in smartphones this week – and Apple has done little to address this with an iPhone update quickly labelled as incremental. At its main annual product event, Apple implicitly acknowledged the failure of the smartwatch to take off by repositioning the second …

Re: the SD slot

>The customer pays for the product, and no one buys a product >100 pounds because it is .50p cheaper!

True, but they aren't going to drop the price by 50p are they. Imagine you're a manufacturer making & selling 10M phones per year. Saving 50p per phone means you make £5M more profit. The customer pays for the product, but the manufacturer specifies it.

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Re: what drives the constant desire to upgrade by consumers?

"A modest upgrade because for her none of those extras were reasons she had for upgrading."

The fact that she doesn't need the extra features doesn't make it a modest upgrade. It's still a significant upgrade; just that she doesn't need it.

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Re: the SD slot

It's not just the material cost here, it's the value Apple have attached to having more storage on the iPhone.

Current cost of an iPhone SE SIM-free on Carphone Warehouse:

16GB model - £359

64GB model - £439

iPhone 6S SIM-free:

16GB model - £529

64GB model - £599

Apple seem to attach a value of £70 to a 48GB memory upgrade - whereas a 64GB SanDisk MicroSD XC1 is £14.38* or a 128GB is £34.99** on Amazon.co.uk. So it's worth a lot more to them than simply losing 50p, they're actually losing £70.50 per phone that might have been upgraded, as 16GB is very restrictive in terms of what can be stored on the phone and is often regarded as just present in the price list so they can say the iPhone cost is "from" a particular price. This is the only thing that's good about the iPhone 7 as far as I can see - they've removed the 16GB option from the lineup.

* https://www.amazon.co.uk/SanDisk-Android-microSDXC-Frustration-Packaging/dp/B013UDL58E/

** https://www.amazon.co.uk/SanDisk-Android-MicroSDXC-Frustration-Packaging/dp/B013UDL5HU/

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How can they have an innovation crisis

when they've rarely innovated? What, really, have they ever invented, as opposed to applying exceptional design and build quality to things that already existed?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How can they have an innovation crisis

when they've rarely innovated? What, really, have they ever invented, as opposed to applying exceptional design and build quality to things that already existed?

I wouldn't even go so far to say that Apple has "exceptional design".

As for quality - hard to convince me that the quality is better than competitors (after all, they're all made in asian sweatshops with slave labour)

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Re: How can they have an innovation crisis

"I wouldn't even go so far to say that Apple has "exceptional design"."

But but but.... the rounded corners!

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Re: How can they have an innovation crisis

Exceptional design and usability can itself be considered innovative.

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Re: How can they have an innovation crisis

"Exceptional design and usability can itself be considered innovative."

This is true. The issue here is that Apple are sacrificing usability (removing a useful connector, battery life) in favour of design. For any product that has to do something and do it well, "design" should always take second place to ergonomics. Design for functionality, totally alongside that. Some people would say that the most functional design is the most aesthetic design. But that's before the hidden persuaders ((c) Vance Packard) get involved.

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Re: How can they have an innovation crisis

You're missing the point here. Phones long ago stopped being a product that had to do 'something' and became bling or jewelry. In that market, design is more important than functionality.

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Smart watches can be very useful. I'm happy with my first gen pebble steel. Not so keen on the later version that have all the fitness nonsense shoehorned in though.

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1200+ for a ceramic???

The headphone link in the article took me to a page advertising a "new" ceramic watch which did not even have a ceramic wristband for 1200+ f*** quid.

It looks more or less like the Ceramic Fossil I bought the SWMBO for 104£ 4 years ago. Just bigger and uglier. It also has a cheap plasticky strap instead of a proper ceramic chainlink wristband. The one Fossil shipped with their ceramic watch so far has survived for 4 years including at least one full speed wipeout without a single scratch. It looks as pristinely white as when the day it arrived.

Sorry, not a chance in hell I am going to part that amount of money for this PoS.

While at it, what is the correct "Ridiculous Headphones" link.

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Re: 1200+ for a ceramic???

'While at it, what is the correct "Ridiculous Headphones" link.'

Here

They look like miniature hair dryers to me.

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Re: 1200+ for a ceramic???

Thanks for the link. From the page And the W1 chip manages battery life so well, you can listen for 5 hours on a single charge

That is a massive fail for cordless headphones. 8 hours is the absolute minimum because if you need them on a long journey, you really need them.

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Coat

Re: 1200+ for a ceramic???

Mr Cheese:

Thanks for correct link.

5 Hours? thats not even one full OMGITBROKEFIXITNAO conference call.

And.. and... is that not a 3.5mm jack opening on the bottom of each of those ..... weirdly shaped phallic objects?

Lord knows what they'll charge for those things.

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Trollface

Re: 1200+ for a ceramic???

I assume you put the scrotum in your ears?

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"simply a swanky status symbol"

I'm fairly certain there is one 's' too many in the above description.

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Will audio quality get better?

"Will audio quality get better? By abolishing analogue there’s now a clearer digital path to your ear, and the phones get smaller."

Is that ironic, because BT or other digital connection adds re-encoding of the original digital content, which has to be unpacked. The "digital" earphones can easily have a lower quality decoder, DAC and audio amp than is possible on the phone motherboard. Re-encoding from one digital format to another ALWAYS reduces the quality unless it's a totally lossless format. You simply can't have the same quality and power level of analogue signal inside a wireless ear bud as 50 cents worth of electronics inside the phone. What part of the fact that Earphones and Loudspeakers need analogue* do people not understand?

YOU STILL HAVE TO HAVE ANALOGUE TO DRIVE THE EARPHONE COILS!

This is daft. The only advantage whatsoever of ditching an analogue jack is to Apple. You'd be lucky to have as as good quality and will have poor choice of earphones / headsets and have to spend money to connect it to a HiFi as an MP3 player.

The Apple justification of this is simply lies. It's a disgrace and a huge backward step. I'd bet if they could prevent 3rd party earphones working, they would. It's immoral.

[*A nasty trick of low power electronics is to use Pulse Width Modulation, variations of Class D, on/off to drive the moving coil of an earphone or speaker. Apart from the risk of radio interference, it's hard to get the distortion and resolution as good as decent DAC followed by filter and linear audio amp.]

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Re: Will audio quality get better?

"I'd bet if they could prevent 3rd party earphones working, they would"

Now that the only wired connection into the phone is one that they specify and control they are entirely at liberty to do just that.

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Re: Will audio quality get better?

The Apple justification of this is simply lies. It's a disgrace and a huge backward step.

It's worse than that: it's a con trick "watch the ball/lady", designed to take your attention off the real issue. See my post above.

For wireless transmission you pretty much need to go digital in order to get error correction and deal with the potential interference in the unlicensed 2.4 GHz band. If this is done right then with a good DAC the quality is a good as good old copper, done poorly and it's fucking awful.

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Linux

Re: Will audio quality get better?

>>YOU STILL HAVE TO HAVE ANALOGUE TO DRIVE THE EARPHONE COILS!

>>This is daft. The only advantage whatsoever of ditching an analogue jack is to Apple.

Spot on, this only benefits Apple, now if you want to produce iPhorno headphones you need to cash Apple a license.

And I'm waiting to hear people that the last security update for iOS has killed their unlicensed headphones.

But, who cares, whoever buys Apple stuff deserves the Apple treatment.

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Joke

Re: Will audio quality get better?

The toothbrush alternative gives a very clean sound.

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Re: Will audio quality get better?

What part of the fact that Earphones and Loudspeakers need analogue* do people not understand?

Maybe this is the coming innovation - apple customers will in the coming months be offered the chance to upgrade their ears to digital. No more earpieces required for interacting with apple products at all, however a set analogue ears the size of 1970's earphones will be required to interact with the non-apple world.

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Re: Will audio quality get better?

There's potential for headphones to improve with power and a digital signal source. Tradeoffs in driver design are more relaxed when local electronics can compensate for certain types of defects. It opens the possibility for a customized active design that outperforms a passive component design.

The shame is that Apple didn't fix any of this in a practical manner. Bluetooth doesn't have enough digital bandwidth to sound good and the Lightning port is proprietary. Their quest for a walled garden has killed this idea.

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Re: Will audio quality get better?

"The toothbrush alternative gives a very clean sound."

And improves your hearing by removing earwax. Now that's innovation. They'll be suing Braun soon for copying the design.

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"By abolishing analogue there’s now a clearer digital path to your ear"

Dunno about you, but my ears hear in analogue.

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Re: "By abolishing analogue there’s now a clearer digital path to your ear"

Exactly. I've lost track of how many times I've read that this will be so superior because the phone doesn't have to convert the digital audio to analogue, completely ignoring the fact that the earbuds still have to convert it, using less processing power, or all your music is going to sound like a fax machine connecting.

Now all we have to do is evolve digital ears and we'll be living in an audio utopia

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "By abolishing analogue there’s now a clearer digital path to your ear"

No traditional audio out => harder to dump music to other kit.

It could be interpreted as a route to further lock in.

Just saying, like.

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Anonymous Coward

the next battlefield ...

will be in advances which aid or assist users who eyesight and/or coordination is failing.

Otherwise there will be an almighty crash that will ring around the world as the wrinklies (you know - the ones who have the money) are forced to give up their iShinys and retire from the digital scene.

Don't be surprised if there is a "revival" of desktops in 10 years time. As grandfolk everywhere dust off their old keyboards and big screens to continue surfing and buying.

You read it here first.

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Re: the next battlefield ...

> advances which aid or assist users who eyesight and/or coordination is failing.

A nice pair of Apple iEyes inserts...

Direct Cortex Inject (DCItm) for pure digital visiion, and only the occasional, discrete advertisement in the corner of your vision (unless you upgrade to the ad-free subscription package).

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Re: the next battlefield ...

I think they will have to do the eyesight assistance sooner rather than later to help their customers find all the wireless earbuds that will inevitably be lost, with them not being tethered to the phone.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: the next battlefield ...

It will be called an eyePhone.

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Re: the next battlefield ...

Mid 2000's, before smartphones there was a line in mobile phones with big screens and big buttons for the older generation. We got one for my Gran, but she absolutely refused to use a mobile phone at all.

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Re: the next battlefield ...

"will be in advances which aid or assist users who eyesight and/or coordination is failing."

What do you think 5.5 inch screens are for? I really liked my compact Sony, but a week with an LG G4 made me realise what I'd been missing, like using a phone without glasses.

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Just.... no

I've had an iphone 3, 4, 4s, 5 and now 6+. But give me back my headphone socket or I go Android for my next phone.

Seriously.

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Re: Just.... no

We'll believe it when we see it. The new ones come with an adapter. What more do you want?

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Re: Just.... no

The ability to listen to music or take a call with a headset while charging would be nice.

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TRT
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Curiously...

The Apple website advertising the Watch is customised for region. Look at the airport location in the calendar App picture, or the restaurant for the meeting shown the Dock section.

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A new model every year? Reminds me of what the Big Three did from round about the mid-1950ies to round about the mid-1960ies. Now as then something that doesn't work that well in a market that's already pretty saturated.

Oh, and Apple's watch is pretty much like Ford's Edsel.

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Apple's watch is pretty much like Ford's Edsel

An insult to Ford.

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Re: Apple's watch is pretty much like Ford's Edsel

Now come on, we can't blame Apple for the fact that wearables as a whole are niche as hell and still haven't identified a serious purpose for themselves.

I actually kinda feel bad for them in this one case, and there's a pretty good reason why. Even though the Watch is more or less acknowledged as a costly failure that no-one really wanted to make and which has no compelling reason to exist, it's still the #1 position in the worldwide smartwatch market. The Watch isn't responsible for the fact that that entire market is <10 million units a year and is already in near-terminal decline.

The whole 'they're great for fitness' thing is bullshit; for starters, they aren't accurate enough to give anything more than a vague approximation of health benefit, and for second the market only latched onto the idea after they'd been making the things for years. They're years away from being really useful for medical purposes, and while they're reliant on attaching to a mobile phone they're essentially a useless, pricey add-on who's sole purpose is to save me having to reach into my own pocket to read a text message - not labour saving enough to be worth more than $100.

Honestly, I'd sooner that the watch merged with my phone into a wrist-mounted communication device, and the other internet/email/tablet functions of the modern phablet were just wholesale adopted into an 8-inch tablet design. The Phablet falls between two stools for most things - it's cumbersome as a telephone, yet still not actually large enough to make reading or web browsing comfortable.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Apple's watch is pretty much like Ford's Edsel

they're essentially a useless, pricey add-on who's sole purpose is to save me having to reach into my own pocket to read a text message

Or in my case, reaching into my own pocket for a phone to get the time.....

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Anonymous Coward

"...even now the street price is £200."

I don't see any Apple Watches for that price. They start at £269, on the UK site at least.

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Paris Hilton

No more inserting my shiny jack?

Shame, I won't be jackblocked by Apple, no matter how courageous Phil thinks this to be. Not that inserting your plug into an iThing's welcoming recepticle would have ever resulted in an exceptionally pleasant auditory experience - it has always been more of a convenience thing. Plugging into something of higher quality will instantly cure you, though.

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FAIL

Pass...

Call me antiquated, but I like my KISS headphones and analog audio jack. That is the one component that has reliably 'just worked' all along. When I lose or damage the headphones, they are inexpensive to replace.

As for the rest of the features on the new iPhone.....they seem more evolutionary than revolutionary. Of course there will be a better camera, better pixels, better audio, a faster processor, and more RAM. But that is not compelling enough for me to upgrade.

I'll pass on this one. And if Apple doesn't figure out the 'oops' they made with the headphone plug, then I will likely consider switching vendors when this phone wears out.

(KISS = Keep It Simple Stupid)

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Re: Pass...

"Call me antiquated ..."

All right, but I'd rather call you Shirley.

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Anonymous Coward

First There Were The Glassholes

Now we have to find a suitable name the i-diots who will be using these air pod things in public.

Appholes maybe?

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Re: First There Were The Glassholes

'Appholes'?

I think I'll settle for repeatedly asking them...

1. Why they have a toothbrush(es) in their ear(s).

2. Offer to take them to casualty so the toothbrush(es) can be removed.

If they explain it's an earpiece, say 'naw, it's the head of an electric toothbrush'. And return to 1 or 2.

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Vatch the Vatch

As Ludwig Von Drake would say. Watches are fickle things. For the most part (since quartz crystal and silicon chips) the timepiece part of the watch is in the less than $50 range. The added parts of the watch go into the "gee wiz" category (see diving watches), or jewelry (see Rolexes). People who BUY watches tend to keep them for a long time (Me, over 15 years), and use them for a simple task, answering the question "what time is it?". You don't need much after that for basic functionality, and you can't innovate much in that space either. The iWatch is a solution in search of a problem, and the solution doesn't really solve anything.

What might be really innovative would be a "self charging" version, where it takes the hand/arm movements and recharges the battery. This could (possibly) add enough to make the manual recharging process unnecessary.

That would be a BIG DEAL. I suspect that the energy available isn't enough to be significant, so it probably won't happen. In case it does, I mentioned it here first, and if nobody patents in a year, it is a free idea.

I still like nice analog (dials) watches, and desktop machines. I need the nice big letters that work nicely with my old age (*SIGH*).

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Re: Vatch the Vatch

There are plenty of watches where the pendulum of the auto winder drives a little dynamo to charge a supercapacitor or battery, and yes, the power generated isn't enough for a small computer with a display. Auto winders do require one to be reasonably active, so there goes a whole lot of the target market.

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First to market?

I don't agree that Apple had to launch a smart watch quickly to stop Google cornering the market. Blackberry and Microsoft completely owned the smartphone market before Apple came along. I had a load of phones from HTC and HP running Windows Mobile before the Galaxy S came out. Being late to the market didn't do Apple any harm, it gave them a chance to look at what the competition was doing wrong and fix it.

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