Does Apple have an upgrade problem?

“No matter how positive you are on any company or stock, it’s always wise to look at potential risks to the downside,” Bill Maurer writes for Seeking Alpha. “While I still think that upside remains moving forward, there is one risk for 2018 that does worry me. I’m talking about device upgrades.”

“Everyone knows that Apple charges premium prices for its products. With those prices, however, comes an expectation of high quality. When you are paying $800 or more for a phone, you expect it to last, usually more so than one that only costs a fraction of that price,” Maurer writes. “One Apple analyst recently published the following estimate of an Apple device lifespan, with the figure rising over the past couple of years.”

apple device lifespan
(Source: Horace Deidu via MacRumors)

“At the end of this month, customers who bought the iPhone SE when it first came out will be off their 2-year contracts, so what will they do if Apple doesn’t launch a new small screen device?” Maurer writes. “I’ll be closely watching to see if Apple introduces new versions of its smaller screen devices, otherwise growth estimates may need to come down a little. Fortunately, investors may be a little forgiving at the next earnings report, given Apple is expected to announce an increase to its already massive capital return plan. However, dividends and buybacks won’t satisfy everyone for long if too many consumers decide to go with battery replacements instead of buying new iPhones.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: With Apple, generally, you get what you pay for and part of that premium price is product longevity. With the battery upgrade genie out of the bottle, some percentage will opt for that cost-effective solution vs. replacing their entire iPhone. We’ll find out how many soon enough.

If iPhone sales are negatively impacted, you can see why some think that Apple wanted to keep what they were doing a secret. If people knew that a $79 battery replacement would give them an iPhone that performed like it did on day one, a meaningful percentage would take that option versus buying a new iPhone. Now that it’s just $29 this year, that percentage will naturally increase.

Then again, as Hanlon’s razor states: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

Apple’s made up of people. People are imperfect. We’ll take Apple’s word for it that they “always wanted… customers to be able to use their iPhones as long as possible” and that they “have never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades.” — MacDailyNews, January 3, 2018

Analyst: Apple’s ‘batterygate’ solution may mean 16 million fewer iPhones sold this year – January 3, 2018


  1. Apple is coasting. Rather than work hard to do something besides incremental slow updates, it is collecting profits from its walled gardens and making small accessories for media consumption. Not for creation.

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