‘Boring’, record-setting iPhone 7 shows hope beats hype

Apple's iPhone 7 series set to create new records -- how could media predictions have been so wrong?

Apple, iOS, iPhone, Samsung, Galaxy, Note, Note 7, iPhone 7, smartphone

Apple may sell more than 100 million iPhone 7’s by the end of the year, analysts claim, with some predicting it will be the biggest-selling iPhone model yet. Initial stocks quickly sold out in the U.S., China and the UK across launch weekend – how could media expectations have created such flawed expectations?

Making the right call

“We have seen substantial anecdotal evidence that iPhone 7/7 Plus preorder demand is up year-on-year throughout the U.S. market, while 7 Plus preorder demand looks strong in multiple geographies based on wait time data from various Apple websites in international markets," Raymond James analyst, Tavis McCourt, told clients Friday.

These results match some of the more positive predictions given within a range of previous analysis. For example, Mizuho Securities Senior Analyst Abhey Lamba predicted Apple would sell up to 230 million iPhone 7’s across 12-months.

Jackdaw Research analyst, Jim Dawson explained how compelling the upgrade is to those on iPhone 6 or earlier devices in an argument that also prophesied strong demand. The new Apple smartphone seems likely to drive a wave of Android to iPhone switching, despite the disappearance of the headphone jack.

It seems clear that far from being "boring" the iPhone 7 Apple introduced hosts a range of advanced features, not least inclusion of the fastest mobile processor ever made available in a smartphone.

Don’t believe the hype

The weirdly out of touch media also caused huge embarrassment to Apple’s arch-foe, Samsung. Prompted by reports claiming the new iPhone 7 would be “boring,” Samsung management chose to rush production of the Galaxy Note 7 series, opening themeselves up for the PR disaster within which they are currently embroiled.

“It is indisputable that the Galaxy Note 7 incident has become a huge plus for Apple,” said IBK Investment & Securities analyst Lee Seung-woo.

Samsung’s brand appeal has taken a knock, not only has it been forced to recall its flagship device but that recall has been conducted in a clumsy fashion, as Bloomberg explains.

People missed the facts

Component vendors in South Korea had expected Apple to sell up to 85 million units of its new smartphone this year, but expectations have increased in consequence of Samsung’s product disaster.

Think about that in the context of something else that we knew before the launch of the device: Apple originally told component suppliers to aim for up to 80 million sales, what was missed is that this was the company's “highest production target in about two years.”

In a sense it is a triumph of hope over hype. Prior to the Apple launch months of media reports had called the new device “boring,” not because it lacked major improvements but solely because it offered them up within the same basic form factor. The hubbub was heard at Apple's highest levels, Jony Ive obliquely referred to it during the launch event when he described iPhone 7 as “the most evolved most singular version of the traditional design.”

What the pundits got wrong is that they favored form over substance, as John Gruber notes: “There is a large contingent of pundits who apparently would be more excited about a new iPhone that looked entirely different but had the exact same components as the iPhone 6S than they are by the actual iPhones 7, which are shaped like the 6S but have amazing new components. I don’t get that mindset at all. It’s like being a car pundit and judging the new Porsche 911 with a 'meh' because it looks like the previous 911, and never even considering what it’s like to actually drive the new car.”

Behind the illusion

It is difficult to account for the fundamental disconnect between the expectations set by the media and what is really happening, though the disconnect is far more obvious in political reporting. Like the latter, media seems to ignore what is really happening on the ground. There the reality is that shoppers hoping to buy a new iPhone 7 have been turned away disappointed from Apple Stores worldwide, because demand is so high. Think about the months of disconnect and surely it is possible that if reports had been more tuned into actual reality than attempting to meld opinion to create a new one, those customers would have got to the queue earlier and gone home happier because they would have known Apple was about to release the most successful smartphone model since the last iPhone.

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Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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