According to CNN Business's David Goldman, iPhone sales–the crown prince of smartphones–have flatlined since 2015. Goldman points out that in November of 2018, Apple decided to stop breaking out iPhone sales, and in January of 2019, the company warned that it would miss sales targets for the previous quarter, citing weak iPhone demand in China as the culprit. Goldman details:
But iPhone sales have stagnated — Apple sold fewer iPhones in each of the past three years than it sold in 2015, when Apple debuted the iPhone 6. If iPhone sales fell last quarter, they will have dropped in six of the past 12 quarters.
Plus, when you zoom out, it's clear that the downfall of the iPhone is an indication of a larger market trend:
The problem isn't unique to Apple. The entire smartphone market has shrunk in each of the past four quarters, according to IDC.
'China isn't the full picture,' said Nigel Vaz, emerging markets and Asia-Pacific CEO of Publicis, a digital consultancy. 'The mobile market is maturing, and customers can no longer be relied upon to upgrade every time a new iPhone is released.'
Despite lagging sales, most people are still extremely devoted to their iPhones and smartphones at large. Despite the high price tag for the iPhone X, reviews for the gadget were largely positive. As Wirecutter's Nick Guy and Dan Frakes write:
Most of us agree that it’s the best iPhone ever; many think it’s the best smartphone, period...It feels like the first 'new' iPhone since the original, while the iPhone 8 feels like the last 'old' iPhone.
Guy and Frakes look to another Wirecutter correspondent for further insight on the phone:
'In my nearly 20 years of covering technology, and using iPhones since the first generation,' said Wirecutter founder Brian Lam, 'this phone is easily the biggest leap and most satisfying to use, by far.'
According to the experts, Apple's smartphone innovation is finally picking up steam, not dragging behind.
In the midst of slowing sales, a new trend has emerged–or rather, a familiar one–flip phones. Fox New's Brooke Crothers reports:
The flip phone is having a mini-resurgence as consumers seek less distraction. Call it a rejection of the smartphone with its bombardment of messaging and social media that sap your attention. Or maybe it’s just a return to the cell phone’s roots, when a phone was just a phone.
Some parents choose flip phones for their kids in order to save money and to protect them from the tiny, addicting machines. For others, flip phones have also taken on their own "vintage" feel; it is now a statement to choose an outdated phone over smartphone technology. If you own a flip phone, you are telling people you are detached from social media and from the crippling effects of FOMO, and most importantly, you choose to live in the moment.
For many, it's too late to turn back. With it's camera, messaging and internet capabilities, it's impossible to imagine life without smartphones. Everyone expects to be able to reach others and to be reachable at all hours of the day. Without smartphones, how would we check our email or our Slack messages after we leave work? How would we easily take selfies? How would we even get from point A to point B?