Taking a look back at another week of news from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes higher iPhone prices, has Apple hit the glass iPhone ceiling, missing iPhone sales, a new way to unlock secure iPhones, the death of the LP in iTunes, and more vertical video from Netflix.
Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can read my weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).
iPhone Prices Set To Rise
Apple’s 2018 handset plans are becoming clearer, and the two keywords seem to be ‘size’ and ‘price’. As Apple CEO Tim Cook pushes ahead with plans to introduce OLED technology to more handsets and increase the screen size. Which is going to increase the price of this year’s iPhones:
All of which means that Apple’s plans to double down on size and OLED screens for the 2018 iPhone models will keep the prices very high. The top-line iPhone X Plus with a 6.5 inch OLED screen could have an entry-level price of $1400.
While some rumors have claimed the second generation iPhone X would drop in price to accommodate a larger iPhone X Plus, Kuo says this is not true. He claims the second gen iPhone X will again start at $1,000, the iPhone X Plus will be priced higher (likely $1,200-$1,350) while the once-cheap iPhone SE will see its iPhone X-inspired successor come in at more than an iPhone 8 starting from $700-$800.
Has Apple Priced Itself Out Of The Market?
The current iPhone portfolio already shows signs of the iPhone reaching a pricing ceiling, as customer feedback shows that the $1000 price is a barrier to entry. The cost is high, the 2018 models will be even more expensive, and there are signs that consumers have reached their limits. Forbes’ Gordon Kelly reports:
Consequently, Apple’s discovery that many customers are starting to think twice about paying over $1,000 for the iPhone X couldn’t come at a worse time. Apple is already locked into the next cycle with iPhone X Plus production tests already underway, it has an unbending supply chain partner for the model’s most expensive component and the iPhone X Plus is going to cost more than any iPhone in history just as customers start to say ‘Enough is Enough’.
The Disappearing Super Cycle Of iPhone Sales
The discussion over Apple’s iPhone sales in the first quarter of 2018, along with the plans for the 2018 handsets, continues to shine a light over Tim Cook’s decisions as Apple CEO. A root question is ‘how many iPhone handsets Apple planned to manufacture in the first quarter of the year?’. Was it the 40 million ’super cycle’ that the supply chain was led to understood, or the current 20 million target that would see fewer iPhones sold year on year? I discussed this earlier in the week.
No company would decide it wants to sell less units than the year before. Apple launched three new handsets in 2017 instead of the two-handset approach it has taken since the iPhone 6. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus were going to carry on the regular upgrade path, while the iPhone X with its new technology and features new to the iOS platform would accelerate sales to higher levels – just as the introduction of the new technology and larger screen in Apple’s first phablet did so in 2015 with the iPhone 6 Plus.
No company would prepare its supply chain to expect far more orders than it would eventually request. To specifically take the case of the OLED screen for the iPhone X which is manufactured by Samsung Display, that capacity is going to have to be used by someone. Apple has handed the market a glut of OLED screens, and you can assume that mid- and high-end Android device are going to see more vibrant and colourful OLED displays throughout 2018.
GreyLock And The Vulnerable iPhone
How vulnerable is your iPhone? Forbes’ Thomas Fox-Brewster reports on an American company that is offering its ‘Grey Lock’ software that can bypass the security of an iOS powered device.
According to Ryan Duff, director of cyber solutions at Point3 Security, it appeared Grayshift had access to similar exploits as Cellebrite, namely a probable hack that targets Apple’s Secure Enclave, the isolated chip in iPhones that handles encryption keys. The Secure Enclave makes it especially time-consuming to carry out brute forcing by incrementally increasing the time between guesses, up to an hour for the ninth attempt onwards. But if it can be broken, the speed to guessing the right password can be improved.
“Without breaking the encryption, you will always be forced into a brute force situation,” explained Duff. “That doesn’t mean they are using the exact same exploit that Cellebrite is using. It’s possible they are different. But the process post-exploitation is almost certainly the same.”
Apple declined to comment on Grayshift’s claims.
The Death Of The iTunes LP
Apple has decided to stop selling iTunes LPs, reports Jasper Hamil:
The tech giant has just announced ‘the end of iTunes LPs’, prompting claims that it’s secretly planning to stop selling downloads altogether. Metro.co.uk has been shown an email sent to people working in the music business announcing the withdrawal of ‘LPs’ from the iTunes store. Older readers and vinyl lovers will know that LP stands for ‘long-playing’ and is generally used to refer to an album.
This isn’t the death of ’the album’ on iTunes, or even the death of iTunes itself, only the curious concept of a album with extra graphics, multimedia presentations, and bonus features. These were put together to make an ‘LP’ that could be sold online for more. Turns out that was a step too far in a world where streaming for a flat monthly fee continues to be the popular option. More at Metro.
If there’s one thing old school media watchers cannot understand, it’s the fascination with vertical video. Thanks to decades of TV and cinema ratios, the idea of watching in portrait mode was never considered. Then the smartphone came… and now Netflix has decided to adopt the vertical view to promote its latest feature films and TV shows. Harry Domanski reports:
According to Todd Yellin, Netflix vice president of product, the video previews will feature 30-second trailers of suggested series and movies that have been tailored to your viewing habits. These trailers will appear in a vertical orientation (to suit mobile, naturally) and will boast the ability to skip back and forth through them by swiping, akin to Snap’s Stories feature, which has already been mimicked by Instagram to great success.
The preview function will be rolling out to Netflix’s mobile app over the coming months, hitting iOS devices before it makes its way to Android platforms.
Apple Loop brings you seven days worth of highlights every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future. Last week’s Apple Loop can be read here, or this week’s edition of Loop’s sister column, Android Circuit, is also available on Forbes.