Is Apple losing its magic touch?

When Apple speaks, the world usually listens. But is Apple losing its magical ability to stimulate interest in what it has to say?

Apple, iOS, iOS 12, iPhone, MacBook, iPad, Apple Watch, Gather Round

When Apple speaks, the world usually listens. But is Apple losing its magical ability to stimulate interest in what it has to say?

It doesn’t look that way

I contacted SEO specialists, SEMrush. I wanted to find out how well Apple has been generating customer interest in terms of expectation around its new products in the prelude before its big iPhone and Apple Watch reveal on September 12.

The truth?

Apple has trained its audience well, and those people seems highly receptive to new Macs, iPads, Apple Watch, and iPhone models. Take a look at this global data around search.

iphone global data copy SEMrush

It represents searches for specific iPhone model names: iPhone 9, iPhone X Plus, iPhone 11, and iPhone X2. (We chose to research those potential names way before the latest iPhone XS claims began.) Look closely, and you’ll see that searches around all of those potential model names have shot up dramatically.

It’s not in the chart, but I’ve seen data that confirms search volume for iPhone X are almost eight times higher than the highest data in the latest chart — to my mind, this means not only has Apple kept people interested in its current flagship smartphone, but the company has successfully stimulated interest in whatever it plans to introduce next.

iphone names us data SEMrush

What’s in a name?

This next image shows search volume dynamics around several potential iPhone model names in the U.S.

What’s interesting about this is that it shows that earlier this year, most people were looking for news on the iPhone X Plus and iPhone 9 — search activity around other potential names (such as iPhone XS) has been a tiny blip — though iPhone XI seems to be generating heat.

We don’t yet know what the new model names are going to be, but it will be interesting to look back and see how closely what we expected these things to be called correlates with the brand Apple slaps on its beautifully designed box.

What about Apple Watch?

We now know that (in SEO terms, at least) interest in Apple Watch is always at its highest just before and just after a new model is introduced. The highest point was in early 2015, when pre-orders of the first model began, the SEMrush data shows.

The data shows a consistent pattern since then, and while interest has never quite peaked so high, the interest that does exist continues to generate an excellent position in the wearables space for Apple, which sells the world’s most popular smartwatch.

apple watch interest SEMrush

What else does the data show?

Positive interest was visible before and after WWDC 2018, when Apple introduced us to watchOS 5. However, interest flattened again in July.

It remains to be seen if the company can rekindle interest with Apple Watch Series 4, though interest in those recently leaked images of the product suggest it probably can.

Mac, not mobile

There are frequent complaints that Apple appears transfixed with its adventures in mobile devices at the expense of the Mac.

We think Apple will do something to fix that perception soon, with speculation around new Mac mini models, a low-cost Mac notebook, and next year’s Mac Pro restoring a little hope across the Mac massive.

So, what does the SEMrush data show? One key metric I do see is that after huge spikes in interest when iMac Pro was announced in June 2017 and after it shipped later that year, Mac users remain deeply curious about these machines.

With new Mac notebooks allegedly ready to roll, it is interesting to note that interest around the recently updated MacBook Pro and MacBook remains strong, while the long-ignored MacBook Air generates little attention.

This will change, as the data shows a big spike in interest in all new MacBook family models following any hardware or software announcements — and it looks like we'll be getting both this fall.

What have we learned?

One thing all the statistics do show is that while we’re all still very interested in Apple’s solutions, the lack of an all-new invention has cut down the pre-launch hype.

That’s not such a bad thing — Apple has been working to become more independent of that kind of hit-driven business for years (hence the focus on services income).

While people may not be quite so full of anticipation at this point of the release cycle as they have perhaps been before, there’s still plenty of interest to go around and interest will inevitably spike once Apple slaps fresh goods on the table.

This certainly seems to be the conclusion outside SEMrush. Egnyte Research this week proved that the mobile enterprise is an iOS enterprise, while analysts, including Canaccord Genuity, seem to be predicting at least 220 million iPhone sales across the next 12 months — a year in which Apple intends to fuel its never-ending story with new Mac Pros and a series of carefully choregraphed software and hardware upgrades as it gavottes gracefully toward iOS 13, Marzipan, and new Netflix-like movie services in 2019.

Has Apple lost its touch? Citing the so-called Betteridge's Law: "If a headline ends with a question mark the answer is usually 'No.'"

Google+? If you use social media and happen to be a Google+ user, why not join AppleHolic's Kool Aid Corner community and get involved with the conversation as we pursue the spirit of the New Model Apple?

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Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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