Updated with iPhone 7 and product details: Apple has sold more than 1 billion iPhones, CEO Tim Cook said today. But Wall Street appears to believe that the incremental changes just unveiled for the iPhone 7 will do little to reverse the slowing sales for a product that accounts for about 60% of the company’s revenues.
Apple shares remained flat-to-down during the presentation showing off its new features.
It will be water and dust resistant, and have stereo speakers. And — as rumored — there’s no headphone jack. Those wanting to listen to music or podcasts can connect wirelessly via Bluetooth or plug into the Lightening connector also used for charging. The iPhone 7 will come with an adapter for those who prefer to use headphones with a conventional phono jack.
“We do have a vision for how audio should work on mobile devices,” marketing SVP Phil Schiller says. “It makes no sense to tether ourselves to mobile devices.” The company will sell wireless earphones it calls AirPods, as well as wireless Beats headphones.
The camera offers a “huge advancement,” he says, with a wider (f1.8) lens, improved image stabilizer, a 12 megapixel sensor, 4-LED flash, and more powerful processing power. It’s “a super computer for photos,” the exec says.
The company also will market an iPhone 7 plus with two cameras and lenses: one for wide angle and the other for telephoto allowing users to zoom an image by a factor of 10. It also allows for better depth of field, where a close-up image is sharp and the background is blurry.
In both models, the front camera for selfies was boosted to 7 megapixels from 5.
And the cost? The iPhone 7 starts at $649 for 32 Gb of storage, with 128 and 256 Gb also available. The iPhone 7 Plus will start at $769. Orders begin Sept. 9 and the devices will start to ship on Sept. 17.
Cook might wait until next year, the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, to introduce more meaningful changes such as curved OLED screens.
If company positions its flagship product as a fashion accessory, with few major changes, then it “could cause a muted desire for its customer base to upgrade,” BGC Partners’ Colin Gillis says. “We see Apple losing market share over the upcoming year.”
That could create trouble for Apple, whose stock has lost close to 2% of its value in the 12 months before today’s event: The company could end 2016 with 43.5% of the U.S. smartphone market, virtually unchanged from 2015, eMarketer forecasts. Google’s Android should end this year with 52% of the market.
Among the other disclosures at the widely followed event:
- Apple Music has 17 million subscribers.
- The iTunes Store will add Nintendo’s Super Mario to its game offerings. That sent Nintendo shares up 6.8%.
- And Apple — now the No. 2 selling watch company after Rolex — is updating the Apple Watch. Series 2 will sport a zippier processor and brighter display. It will have a built-in GPS, capable of showing runners not only where they went but how fast they ran at different spots. Nike will partner on an Apple Watch model. It also will be water resistant and can monitor swimmers’ performance. Oh, and Pokemon Go is coming to the Apple Watch. The new watch will cost $369, and the original version — with the upgraded processor — will be called Series 1 and start at $269.
Cook kicked things off with a touch of showbiz, enlisting CBS’ James Corden to join in a version of the late night host’s “Carpool Karaoke.” They sang part of One Republic’s “I Lived.” After they were joined by singer Pharrell, they took on a verse of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama.”
He wrapped up the San Francisco event with a performance by Australian singer-songwriter Sia.