Jack­less iPhone seeks jacked-up sales

Ap­ple eyes tran­si­tion to wire­less as new mod­els de­but

Baltimore Sun - - NATION - By Michael Liedtke

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.

STEPHEN LAM/GETTY

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