Jackless iPhone seeks jacked-up sales
Apple eyes transition to wireless as new models debut
SAN FRANCISCO — Apple’s latest iPhone may be more notable for what’s missing from previous models than what’s being added. The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus unveiled Wednesday won’t have an analog headphone jack — a longtime staple in just about every consumer electronics device that can play audio.
In doing so, Apple is betting that its legions of loyal fans will embrace the shift to wireless headphones — or, if they insist on sticking with their old ways, that they won’t mind using earbuds that plug into the iPhone’s power port, or older headsets in conjunc- Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the new iPhone 7 during a Wednesday launch event. tion with a new adapter.
The redesigned earbuds — with cord — will be included with the new iPhones. Also in the box: an adapter consisting of two plugs connected by a short length of cable, which will connect older headphones to the charging port.
But Apple is trying to push consumers to cut the cord with their headphones and make the leap into what it envisions as a “wireless future.”
“The reason to move on is courage,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing. “The courage to move on and do something new that will benefit all of us.”
As part of the transition, Apple also is introducing wireless “AirPods” that will sell for $160.
Getting rid of the 3.5 millimeter headphone jack helped Apple make its new iPhone slimmer, boost its battery lifetime and add other improvements, including stereo speakers and a sharper camera. The iPhone 7 is also water resistant, a popular feature that rivals such as Samsung Electronics have been offering.
Apple is trying to reverse its first decline in iPhone sales since the company’s late founder, Steve Jobs, unveiled the trend-setting device in 2007.
Apple sold nearly 92 million iPhones during the first six months of this year, or about 15 percent fewer than the same period last year. Industry analysts blame the downturn on last fall’s uninspiring rollout of the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, neither of which included enough compelling features to persuade consumers to replace the phones that they already owned.
Now the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus may be plagued by the same syndrome.
Phone advances from Apple, Samsung and other smartphone makers in recent years are becoming so run-of-the-mill that BGC analyst Colin Gillis says the industry is gradually losing its ability to dazzle consumers.
Gillis believes Apple’s iPhone sales could decline by 5 percent during the next year.
Apple’s shares gained 66 cents, less than 1 percent, to $108.36 on Wednesday.
The most significant upgrades to this year’s models include a faster processor and a better camera, upgrades that Apple typically makes every year. The more expensive and l arger iPhone 7 Plus boasts the biggest change, with two digital camera lenses.
The new iPhones will debut Sept. 16 in the U.S., China and more than two dozen other countries. Orders will start this Friday. Prices start at $650.