I’m not one to wade into the world of rumors but this time it’s hard to resist. There are two reasons: First, as Fortune‘s Adam Lashinksy notes, the Apple event scheduled for Sept. 12 is the first since the passing of Steve Jobs six years ago to generate Jobs-style buzz. Second, the event expected to reveal a new and much-improved iPhone 8 priced at $1,000.
The figure isn’t official, but numerous and reliable sources suggest the phone will indeed cost a grand--and maybe more. The real question is how many people will buy it.
As you can see from the video debate above, I’m skeptical. Sure, some people (millions in fact) will pay $1,000, but I doubt the new iPhone will trigger the must-have mentality that led people in the Jobs-era to line up overnight to get one.
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If other rumors are true, the iPhone 8--aka the iPhone X to mark the 10th anniversary of the iPhone’s premiere--will have some genuinely breakthrough new features. These include a design overhaul and superior display, plus wireless charging and security features based on facial recognition. These last two features sound especially exciting, and would represent a departure from the ho-hum improvements that have marked the last few iterations of the iPhone.
All of this might justify Apple jacking up the price of its flagship product by over $300 (the iPhone 7 costs $649) and help the company break through the $1,000 price point, which is reportedly a psychological barrier in the smartphone industry.
But here’s the thing. Apple and its products under CEO Tim Cook aren’t what they used to be under Jobs. While Cook has proved an able steward of the brand (and is by all accounts a better human being than Jobs), the company is no longer driven by the relentless perfectionism that made the early iPhones so breathtaking.
I have both an iPhone 6 and an iPhone 6 Plus and both feel buggy compared to earlier models. The battery issues that plague both phones are especially galling, as has Apple’s refusal to come clean about the scale of the problem. Meanwhile, Apple’s iTunes service remains a godawful mess and the company’s obliging customers to buy external accessories (in the form of ear buds and dongles) takes some of the delight out of an iPhone purchase.
All of this, I suspect, is draining some of the immense loyalty and goodwill Apple has with its customers. Add in that $300 price increase, and it feels like more people than ever, including me, will respond by settling for a lower-priced iPhone 7S -- or turning to an Android option at half the price.
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