Is the new Apple iPhone 7 groundbreaking? Not exactly. Are there surprises? Not really. But is the chatter about removing the headphone jack going to damage Apple’s brand? Unlikely.
Let’s start with the fact that the new iPhone has longer battery life and a faster processor than ever before. We have come to expect this with every new iPhone release. For a product to be competitive, these innovations have become table stakes in the market place.
The new iPhone 7 is also water- and dust-resistant. Samsung relied heavily on similar features in recent marketing campaigns, making Apple’s announcement seem as if it’s matching a standard already set by competitors. Therefore, much of the new iPhone technology is really just a way of keeping up with the marketplace.
Where the new iPhone 7 announcements get interesting is when it comes to the technology behind its camera. The dual camera can actually start to compete with digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLR), eliminating the need for a separate camera since users can now get DSLR-quality pictures on their phones. In a world where we increasingly express ourselves through the photos we take, the omnipresent camera on our phone becomes ever more important. Apple’s emphasis on improving this technology is not only innovative, but also in tune with how we interact with the world.
However, what has largely overshadowed all these announcements is the feature Apple took away: the headphone jack. People hate change. They hate it even more when you take something away. Apple is comfortable pushing consumers to adopt new technology and getting them to change their behaviors. Apple may not always be first to market with these technologies, but it democratizes new technology for the masses. In the short term people may be resistant to the change with the headphone jack, but give it a couple of years and people won’t be using wired headphones anymore. Just like we don’t miss the CD drive, we won’t miss being physically tethered to our electronic devices. It’s probably better for us in the end, we just don’t realize it yet.
Ultimately, once you’ve bought into the whole Apple system, you’re in deep and it’s tough to leave. The iPhone 7 may not be a breakthrough innovation that attracts new customers, but I doubt it will cause a substantial number to switch to Apple’s competitors. Next year the iPhone will turn 10, and I’m sure Apple is already hard at work trying to exceed already high expectations for next year’s product launch.
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